In 2005, Tennessee was just coming off the heels of a 10-3 record and SEC East championship and was ranked as high as No. 2 in the preseason, easily the favorites for the SEC that year. It was not to be.
Tennessee won an opening game with UAB before going on the road against Urban Meyer's Florida Gators and dropping the decision 16-7. The Vols made up ground by defeating LSU and Ole Miss, but that was followed by losses to Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, and Notre Dame.
By the time the miserable 2005 campaign, was over the Vols were 5-6 and didn't go bowling for the first time in the Fulmer era. The Vols bounced back the following year, posting a 9-4 record and going to the Outback Bowl, and improved the year after with a 10-4 record and an SEC East Championship.
But the 2008 campaign would prove to be too much for Vol fans. Tennessee came into the season ranked 17th, opening on the road against unranked UCLA. Tennessee dropped the contest in overtime, then struggled their way to a 5-7 record, a year which saw them get blown out by rivals Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.
Tennessee was done with Phil Fulmer, and in late November signed Lane Kiffin as their new head coach.