Yesterday we mentioned the Phil Fulmer rumor here at Your Best 11; my colleague at the SEC Blog, Barrett Sallee, took it a step further and gave some quick thoughts. Yahoo! Sports' Graham Watson also got in her thoughts on the matter.
After penning my thoughts on keeping Taver Johnson at the helm as Jeff Long started his coaching search, with this Fulmer news, the game plan has changed for me.
I would love for the Hogs to grab Phil Fulmer. This is not a joke; this is not for my own personal enjoyment. This is for real. I absolutely think Fulmer, the former Volunteers head man and winner of the first-ever BCS championship, is the man for this job.
...if they're only giving it to him for a year.
Fulmer is not a long-term solution. His final seven years at Tennessee showed an up-and-down commitment to recruiting: three solid years (2002, 2005, 2007) and four years of finishing 18th or lower (35th in 2008 per Rivals). In a league that bases much of its existence around a continuous effort to get talent, that's a problem.
Fulmer at Arkansas, a tougher place to recruit to than Tennessee, just doesn't inspire confidence on the recruiting trail. Especially not against the likes of Nick Saban, Les Miles and Gene Chizik.
However, in the short term? He's a great fit: a man that knows the landscape of the league and who understands just how important wins are for a team. Fulmer does great with his hands largely off the functions of his two sides of the football. See his time with David Cutcliffe and the faith he placed in John Chavis' hands to speak to that.
The Razorbacks already have capable coordinators; what they lack at the moment is a man who understands how to be a head coach. No legitimate head-coaching experience on that staff, and that means learning on the job while you've got a championship-hopeful team—not exactly a recipe for success.
Arkansas needs a guy who gets the day-to-day intricacies: practice schedules, media obligations, hand-shaking and the like—all things that Fulmer understands and did for years, up until his firing following the 2008 season.
Whether you keep Johnson or hire Fulmer for a season, the Razorbacks face a tough task in the recruiting game. Hiring Fulmer doesn't make recruiting easier or more difficult, but what he does do is help the Hogs manage this season. Jeff Long won't have to worry about hand-holding for a guy like Johnson, who is thrust into his first big-time lead role. Johnson can focus on coaching his position and getting the defense fixed.
So, yeah, I love the idea of bring Fulmer in as a stopgap guy—someone who can pull the pieces of the ship together by taking care of the little things that are thrust upon a head coach's plate.