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Great show again guys.
I was glad to hear you talk about the Phil Fulmer situation at Tennessee. I agree that Fulmer should be allowed to have a bad season. The problem is, most rabid UT fans, would consider anything less than an SEC Championship, a bad season. Unrealistic I know but, as you mentioned in the show, his early success may have set the bar way too high to ever fall below.
I think two things have contributed to Tennessee’s poor season. The first is a bad hire at the OC position when they had to replace Cutcliffe. Dave Clawson coming in from Richmond with no D1 experience, was a bad move in my opinion. In the opening game at UCLA, the camera would show Norm Chow, glasses perched on the tip of his nose, calm and collected and confident in his play calling. Switch to Clawson. He was fidgeting in his seat and had that deer in the headlights look about him.
The second problem has been recruiting. In the past, Tennessee could just about pick and choose the best high school athletes from NC, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and South Carolina. Along comes Nick Saban, Mark Richt, Les Miles, Butch Davis, Urban Meyer and the return of Steve Spurrier. These coaches have done an outstanding job of keeping their respective states players, in state. This definitely hurt Tennessee’s recruiting efforts and as Kirk Herbstreit said just yesterday on ESPN, “Tennessee has been playing with third and fourth tier talent instead of the tier 1 and 2 talent they used to get.” Fulmer was turning that around and has a great class coming in for next year. Well, if those recruits decide to still come to Tennessee with Fulmer leaving, it’ll be a great class.
I think the biggest thing that got Tennessee’s AD thinking about asking Fulmer to leave, was the fact that only one other time, has Tennessee lost 7 games in one season. Hamilton saw this coming and realized that more than the 10,000 fans that stayed home for the Northern Illinois game, would stay home after 7 or more losses. With yesterday’s loss to Wyoming, the team has hit that mark and it’s very likely that they will lose their last two games at Vanderbilt and home against Kentucky, giving Tennessee it’s worst year ever.
Fulmer said at the end of his news conference announcing he would be leaving that, “It’s not about having your name on some plague. It’s about digging out of the trench.” He wanted to chance to right the ship and will not get it. I do hope he stays on in some capacity at the University.
There is a story on govols.com from a Knoxville News Sentinel sports reporter, talking about the trip home from the Fiesta Bowl in Jan. of ’99, after Tennesse won the National Championship. It says that Coach Fulmer’s wife Vicki, told him during the flight, that you’ve reached the top and accomplished your goals. Things don’t get any better than this and can only go downhill. Why don’t you just retire and let’s go do something else. Coach Fulmer said, “What am I going to do that pays this well?”
Looking back, maybe he should have went out on top.
Lastly, for Jonathan’s sake, the top story at govols.com, have the headline, “Davis is leading candidate to replace Fulmer.”
At least Bruce Pearl isn’t going anywhere. 🙂
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