Wednesday, October 29, 2008

One More Loss and Phil Fulmer Is Finished

There is a strong consensus that University of Tennessee's head football coach Phil Fulmer will be finished after his next loss.

It was rumored that Fulmer would be out after the Alabama game. That rumor grew legs before the Mississippi State game, however the Vols ultimately crushed the Bulldogs after a second half surge sparked by two interceptions returned for touchdowns.

The remaining Tennessee schedule includes South Carolina on Nov. 1, followed by Wyoming, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky. It is unlikely the Vols will escape unscathed, therefore, it is likely Fulmer will be finished in the coming weeks. This weekend alone poses a threat against Steve Spurrier.

At first blush one can see that Fulmer has a national title. In recruiting, the Vols have been fairly successful with three top five classes since 2002 and five top 20 classes during the same period. Now the Vols are on track to have another top 10 class this year.

Fulmer is also renowned for having greats such as Peyton Manning, Jamal Lewis, and Cedric Wilson.

On the field Fulmer's teams regularly have nine and 10 wins including bowl games, which seems exceptional, though a look at Vol losses reveals much more. Since 2002, the Vols have had three or more losses each season. Three losses will certainly exclude any team from the National Title, if not a BCS Berth in any BCS bowl.

The Vols are regular runner-up contenders or worse in the SEC under Fulmer. Fulmer had many great players with whom he couldn't attain that elusive undefeated season or national championship.

Will Tennessee fans settle for mediocrity? Those who hate Tennessee or play against them hope their fans will resign themselves to the obligatory three losses per year, but in the midst of a 3-5 record, it appears Vols fans have had enough and the stands are empty.

With one more loss, Vols' fans will get their wish, but who will lead the Vols' in the future? Will it be Cutcliffe, who was arguably the mastermind behind any Fulmer success? Will it be Gruden, who will doubtfully leave his spot at Tampa Bay and who grew up in the shadow of the Golden Dome at Notre Dame? Will it be another lesser known name, or will the Vols make a controversial move for Steve Spurrier?

Many questions surround the future of Tennessee, but one thing is certain: Phil Fulmer won't be coaching next year unless he wins every game left on the schedule.

1 comment:

Mike Tierney said...

Let's feel a little sorry for Phil Fulmer. He was loyal to his school. By all accounts, he played by the rules. He was a hard-working, though not innovative, coach.
But let's not feel a lot sorry for him. He lasted nearly 17 season at Tennessee, longer than anyone not named Paterno or Bowden can expect nowadays. He basked in glory, won championships and got to coach Peyton Manning. And he walks away with a staggering $6 million.
For that, Volunteer fans should be outraged that athletics director Mike Hamilton awarded Fulmer a long-term extension after last season when he knew the Big Orange Man was falling out of favor. Were I a booster, I would tell Hamilton to figure out how to pay off this bonanza without raising ticket prices the next several seasons. The deal was a terrible decision by the A.D., whose primary decisions involve the employment status of the head football coach.
Farewell, Phil. You'll be missed.

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