Phillip Fulmer attends Tennessee practice for first time since firing

Former Tennessee head football coach Phillip Fulmer signs autographs at the Tennessee Theatre Friday, August 9, 2013 in a 15th anniversary celebration of 1998 Fiesta Bowl National Championship and fundraiser to benefit to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

(SAUL YOUNG/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Saul Young

Former Tennessee head football coach Phillip Fulmer signs autographs at the Tennessee Theatre Friday, August 9, 2013 in a 15th anniversary celebration of 1998 Fiesta Bowl National Championship and fundraiser to benefit to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. (SAUL YOUNG/NEWS SENTINEL)

A once-familiar face took in Tennessee football practice on Tuesday. Dressed in a shirt and tie like the businessman he now is, Phillip Fulmer observed and chatted with various staff members and a couple of his former players.

It was Fulmer’s first practice since he was fired as coach in 2008. He’s kept a low profile around the program since then, careful not to be misinterpreted as looking over anyone’s shoulder. At current coach Butch Jones’ invitation, Fulmer spoke to the team Tuesday.

“It was a little emotional, being the first time back,’’ Fulmer said in a UT release. (He didn’t talk to the media.) “I’m glad to be here. As I told them, any way I can help.’’

Just being there helped, Jones said.

“He had a great message for them,’’ Jones said. “It’s the pride of who we are. ... To have him back meant a lot to everybody.’’

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Comments » 25

Vol_fan_in_SC writes:

Class, class, class.

What an incredibly appropriate time for Coach Fulmer to return to a place that must have such radically mixed emotions for him now.

That is the Tennessee family.

Coach Fulmer lived it; Coach Jones has embraced it.

It's time for the rest of us to do the same. Come together - be mutually supportive & stand proud.

We ARE Tennessee !!

TNlogfire writes:

Tacos for everybody...!!!

wazzya69vol writes:

in response to Vol_fan_in_SC:

Class, class, class.

What an incredibly appropriate time for Coach Fulmer to return to a place that must have such radically mixed emotions for him now.

That is the Tennessee family.

Coach Fulmer lived it; Coach Jones has embraced it.

It's time for the rest of us to do the same. Come together - be mutually supportive & stand proud.

We ARE Tennessee !!

Excellent post! Thanks.

gc_scvol writes:

in response to Vol_fan_in_SC:

Class, class, class.

What an incredibly appropriate time for Coach Fulmer to return to a place that must have such radically mixed emotions for him now.

That is the Tennessee family.

Coach Fulmer lived it; Coach Jones has embraced it.

It's time for the rest of us to do the same. Come together - be mutually supportive & stand proud.

We ARE Tennessee !!

I agree with yur p[ost 100%. The only thing I could add would be, patience. Pointing fingers and playing the blame game never solved a problem. The first thing you must do to solve a problem is to define the problem. Yes, we have a problem, but it can be fixed. TOGETHER. I think Coach Fulmers' visit shows a lot of class for both coaches. Thanks Coach and Coach. ALL VOL ... ALL THE TIME

kmeier48#1425416 writes:

in response to TNlogfire:

Tacos for everybody...!!!

classless

BrassMonkey writes:

someone still has not stepped up and taken the torch from Fulmer after he passed it on. Butch still has alot to prove.

johndavid writes:

in response to BrassMonkey:

someone still has not stepped up and taken the torch from Fulmer after he passed it on. Butch still has alot to prove.

I'm not so sure he passed it on, they paid him 7 mil and had to tear it out of his hand.

Vol-in-GA writes:

in response to BrassMonkey:

someone still has not stepped up and taken the torch from Fulmer after he passed it on. Butch still has alot to prove.

Agreed, after only 4 games.

fannotsheep writes:

Fulmer was about more than the money. Anyone who saw the press conference when he was fired saw a man have his guts ripped out. So please stop with the money references. Hamilton was the fool who renegotiated the contract after Cutcliffe came back and temporarily righted the ship.

Hopefully there will be a day in the future when the program is back on top and things aren't so rocky. Jones is doing his best to heal the wounds. We need players and wins to get there. But mostly we need patience.

TommyJack writes:

Love him or not, he rightfully belongs in the traditions that are Tennessee football. Good move, Butch.

johndavid writes:

He knew when it was time for Johnny to go , but not himself. Glad we had the success we had under him , but wish he had really "passed the torch" about 5 yrs earlier.

Give him credit for the good years but also for sending the program on a downward trend that we haven't recovered from yet.

fannotsheep writes:

in response to johndavid:

He knew when it was time for Johnny to go , but not himself. Glad we had the success we had under him , but wish he had really "passed the torch" about 5 yrs earlier.

Give him credit for the good years but also for sending the program on a downward trend that we haven't recovered from yet.

Remember that the Vols were a bad 2nd half from playing for a second title in three years in 2001. Had Davey not been hurt I think we win the SEC title game and play in the Rose Bowl.

Either way, the obvious fact is that Fulmer needed both Chavis and Cutcliffe. Each time Cut left the drop was immediate, and the 2nd time the hire of Clawson sealed Fulmer's fate. Other factors were losing Rodney Garner as a recruiter, Georgia and South Carolina finally hiring coaches who could keep in-state talent, Florida hiring Urban and 'Bama hiring Satan (I mean Saban).

Fulmer went 150-52. Not all by himself, certainly. But in his mind he needed and had earned time to right the ship. In most everyone else's mind he needed Cutcliffe to do it.

johnlg00 writes:

Several good comments here. No need to rehash old news. I have always thought CPF was about as good a man as one could find in contemporary college football. Few men have ever shown as much love for the university and the state or brought it so much success with so much honor. I admit I was one who thought it was time for him to go--perhaps a few years earlier than he did. That said, his dismissal was bungled just about as badly as it could be, and the aftermath was mismanaged even worse.

It is only fair that CBJ's wide embrace of all good things related to UT football should include Coach Fulmer. I have rarely sensed such a coming together of everything that made UT great even after all the years, disappointments, and hard feelings. Coach Fulmer should always have a secure place in the hearts of all UT fans. I hope some of his better qualities will rub off on CBJ, who is and should be his own man with many fine qualities of his own.

cpaulp_07#1425414 writes:

I remember the days of watching Tennessee football and when we lost...it was gut wrenching to say the least. As fans we thought we could beat anybody at anytime and were truly disappointed when it didn't happen. Now we are relinquished to hopeing for moral victories against ranked teams...Coach Fulmer visiting reminded me of that confidence and NC mindedness. I'm starting to have faith thru these tough first games that Coach Jones will get us back to that state of mind. Time will tell...

johndavid writes:

in response to fannotsheep:

Remember that the Vols were a bad 2nd half from playing for a second title in three years in 2001. Had Davey not been hurt I think we win the SEC title game and play in the Rose Bowl.

Either way, the obvious fact is that Fulmer needed both Chavis and Cutcliffe. Each time Cut left the drop was immediate, and the 2nd time the hire of Clawson sealed Fulmer's fate. Other factors were losing Rodney Garner as a recruiter, Georgia and South Carolina finally hiring coaches who could keep in-state talent, Florida hiring Urban and 'Bama hiring Satan (I mean Saban).

Fulmer went 150-52. Not all by himself, certainly. But in his mind he needed and had earned time to right the ship. In most everyone else's mind he needed Cutcliffe to do it.

I think we play and might win the NC if Davey and the starting RB had not been injured, I was there. Even if we win, I think think the decline happens. It happened when we had all the success in the world and the recruits were rolling in but no offense at all for years without Cutliffe.

fannotsheep writes:

It's time to move on, recall the great 90's as some of the best in Vol history, and get everyone pulling together to try to make it back up there. Majors, Fulmer and Jones all want the same thing, and that's what every real fan wants too.

Every coach is only as good as his assistants and the players he can bring in. Even Steve Superior was flailing around at South Carolina until he finally got the players to win the trench battles in the SEC. When we get those big ol' boys like we had in the 90's we will become much better very quickly.

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to kmeier48#1425416:

classless

Agree.

gglardon50#417841 writes:

in response to gc_scvol:

I agree with yur p[ost 100%. The only thing I could add would be, patience. Pointing fingers and playing the blame game never solved a problem. The first thing you must do to solve a problem is to define the problem. Yes, we have a problem, but it can be fixed. TOGETHER. I think Coach Fulmers' visit shows a lot of class for both coaches. Thanks Coach and Coach. ALL VOL ... ALL THE TIME

We are Tennessee.
Sure you are 2-2 with a another lose to Florida. Somethings never change because "We are Tennessee"

fannotsheep writes:

in response to johndavid:

I think we play and might win the NC if Davey and the starting RB had not been injured, I was there. Even if we win, I think think the decline happens. It happened when we had all the success in the world and the recruits were rolling in but no offense at all for years without Cutliffe.

You might think I'm crazier than usual, but I've always felt that Tennessee was fated to win the 1998 national title. And I think it was because of John Ward. I am aware that other media types did not care for John, because he was a perfectionist and had an ego. And because all of us who grew up listening to his calls of football and basketball games pretty much thought he was a god.

If it was coincidence that his final year (announced as the season began) was the first time in 47 years the Vols won the whole shootin' match, and if it was coincidence that Clint Stoerner managed to fumble away a win in the most unlikely way, and if it was coincidence that all three teams that had to lose for us to make the first BCS title game (despite our perfect record) did manage to lose the night we won the SEC title game, well …

Call it fate or karma or just plain luck, apparently the University of Tennessee used up two decades' worth of it in that fabled season. I wish the Vols would turn it around soon, but mostly I am eternally grateful to have witnessed that magical season, when the stars aligned to reward fans and players and coaches -- and the man most responsible for thousands of kids like me becoming lifelong fans of a school we didn't attend.

okievol1 writes:

Butch shows class in bringing Fulmer back. So far he gets an A- on my report card. The only thing I have found fault with so far was his decision to start Peterson at Florida. Not saying Worley would have one the game for us but with Worley in the entire game it would have given us a better shot. I would be more interested in seeing the two Frosh. I think Worley is not an SEC caliber QB. Maybe the two freshman are. Given the schedule you were smoking dope if you thought we would finish better than 7-5. My hope was 6-6 and a bowl. Give Dobbs a look. Cant hurt.

rockypop writes:

in response to fannotsheep:

You might think I'm crazier than usual, but I've always felt that Tennessee was fated to win the 1998 national title. And I think it was because of John Ward. I am aware that other media types did not care for John, because he was a perfectionist and had an ego. And because all of us who grew up listening to his calls of football and basketball games pretty much thought he was a god.

If it was coincidence that his final year (announced as the season began) was the first time in 47 years the Vols won the whole shootin' match, and if it was coincidence that Clint Stoerner managed to fumble away a win in the most unlikely way, and if it was coincidence that all three teams that had to lose for us to make the first BCS title game (despite our perfect record) did manage to lose the night we won the SEC title game, well …

Call it fate or karma or just plain luck, apparently the University of Tennessee used up two decades' worth of it in that fabled season. I wish the Vols would turn it around soon, but mostly I am eternally grateful to have witnessed that magical season, when the stars aligned to reward fans and players and coaches -- and the man most responsible for thousands of kids like me becoming lifelong fans of a school we didn't attend.

What a great post. I had the opportunity to work with John Ward in the advertising business, and the one thing that probably a lot of fans don't know is that in the early days of his career as UT's "voice," he also was responsible for producing the coach's show the day after the game.

In those days there was no video tape - it was all film. So, when John left the stadium on away games, he retired to his car, sat in the back, and began the process of editing film on his way back to Knoxville so it would be ready the next morning.

The '98 Championship season was indeed a special season for a ton of reasons - especially John's last game as the "Voice of the Vols." But, mostly because of the incredible breaks the Vols got during both the regular season, the SEC Championship game, and the NC game. They could have easily lost three games during the regular season- to Syracuse, Florida and Arkansas. Then, the SEC Championship game against M/State was no cake walk. The crowning touch was playing a Florida State team in the NC game that lost its Heisman Trophy quarterback, who was replaced by a freshman!

I couldn't agree more w/Fannotsheep that the Vols used all their credits that season, and now they're replacing them with the Alabama loss under Kiffin and the LSU loss under Dooley.

gc_scvol writes:

in response to gglardon50#417841:

We are Tennessee.
Sure you are 2-2 with a another lose to Florida. Somethings never change because "We are Tennessee"

Don't know what that was all about, but as I have stated previously " you can't deal with ignorance," And also, what's "another lose to Fl?"

johnlg00 writes:

in response to gc_scvol:

Don't know what that was all about, but as I have stated previously " you can't deal with ignorance," And also, what's "another lose to Fl?"

I guess since the post count is way down in this pay-site era, that guy felt compelled to help fill the troll quota.

johnlg00 writes:

Great posts by both fannotsheep and rockypop. It was surely fate or something that John Ward stayed behind the mic long enough to call that magical season. It just wouldn't have been right if the man many of us think of as THE "Voice of the Vols" hadn't been around to tell us about it.

Tao_of_Tennessee writes:

Like

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