Yesterday was a very bittersweet day for me. A change in the coaching definitely was needed but like most fans; I’m very scared of what the future could bring.
Yesterday at work when I first saw the story I immediately e-mailed the members of the Big Orange Roundtable. I would have posted something but you know I have to work.
I spent a lot of time yesterday contemplating on what I was going to write.
Yesterday was a sad day in Knoxville. Coach Fulmer has given his heart and soul to the University, and most Tennessee fans know he’s a good man. Change was needed, however, I am proud to have had Phil Fulmer as the head coach of this storied program, and hopefully things will get turned around in the near future.
Phil has brought Tennessee;
- A National Championship
- 2 SEC Titles
- A record of 45-5 from 1995-98, the most victories over a four-year span in school history.
- 9 – 10 win seasons in 15 years and four 10 win seasons in the 2000′s.
- Unbelievable consistency with no in state players to recruit
- 1 down year when bigger programs had several
- Double the future # NFL Hall of Famers than the program had in its history
- 76% winning percentage
- Six seasons finishing in the top 10 nationally and 13 seasons ranked in the top 25.
- Seventeen Tennessee players have earned first-team All-America honors
- Sixteen first-round NFL selections since 1993 and a total of 90 players selected overall. The team’s five first-day 2007 NFL Draft picks were the most of any school and UT has led the SEC with the most players on opening-day NFL rosters each of the last two seasons.
- Fifteen bowl games have welcomed the Vols, including 12 January bowl invitations.
- In two of the last three seasons, Tennessee football has led the SEC in Academic Honor Roll recipients.
- Many trips to Atlanta for the SEC championship game
- Dominance of the main historical rivals GA & ALA
- 11-5 vs. Alabama
- 11-5 vs. Georgia
- 3-3 vs. Auburn
- 15-1 vs. Vanderbilt
- 16-0 vs. Kentucky
- 14-2 vs. South Carolina
- 1-0 vs. Ohio State
- 1-0 vs. Michigan
- 1-1 vs. Miami
- 4-4 vs. LSU
Tennessee had a run in the 90′s that this program has never had. Most programs have never approached. Is it fair to compare his current run that is still better than most and better than this program’s history, to his unprecedented run in the 90′s? When he retires, and he should break Neyland’s record, and he is a Hall of Famer, this program might never see that type of success again.
So be careful what you wish for because often the “known” is better than the “unknown.” Tennessee may some day have a “better” coach, but we will never find one who loves the Tennessee program as much as Coach Fulmer.
For Tennessee this will be a very important hire and possibly the most important hire in the history of the program. Remember how Texas A&M shoved R.C. Slocum aside because they believed Coach Fran would save the day? It will take years for A&M to recover from that mistake, so let’s hope and pray Tennessee doesn’t make the same mistake.
What was unique about Fulmer is the fact he was the only SEC coach that played & graduated from the respective school that they are employed by.
Now what are the ramifications of Coach Fulmer’s stepping down?
Coach Fulmer’s departure is the right thing to do for the program and his press conference was both emotional and graceful. This departure could have been uglier like with other programs like Alabama, Oakland Raiders and West Virginia.
- Look for that highly ranked recruiting class to bow out.
- Look for the media & other fan bases to chastise the Tennessee program and the Big Orange Nation.
- Fulmer could take a job at a school such as Memphis and coach against Tennessee.
- The possibility of current players transferring to other programs.
The future is uncertain and scary. What isn’t uncertain is the fact that Coach Fulmer gave 34 years of his life to the University of Tennessee and for that he should be thanked by the school and the fans alike.
Whatever the winds of change might bring in the future one thing is certain: Coach Fulmer is a damn fine man.