Derek Dooley Fired: Phil Fulmer Is Tennessee's Best Move over Jon Gruden

T.J. Mcaloon@@tjmcaloonContributorNovember 18, 2012

16 Sep 1995:  Coach Phil Fulmer of the Tennessee Volunteers watches his players during a game against the Florida Gators at Florida Field in Gainesville, Florida.  Florida won the game 62-37. Mandatory Credit: Scott Halleran  /Allsport
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The Tennessee Volunteers football program needs a new voice to lead its team after the firing of Derek Dooley. That new voice shouldn’t be someone that Volunteers fans have never heard from before, like Jon Gruden, but should instead be a head coach who has won a national championship with this university before.

That new voice should be former head coach Phillip Fulmer.

Fulmer hasn’t coached since leaving Tennessee after the 2008 season. After he left, he retired from coaching and then went on to do television work with CBS Sports and started working with Northshore Management

However, in an interview with the News Sentinel in October, Fulmer didn’t discount the possibility of returning to coaching, saying:

Q: Has the door closed on your opportunity to coach or would you still consider opportunities?

A: I don't think you can ever say never. I never thought I'd be out of coaching until I retired, and I'm much too young to be retired. I enjoy work and I'm as healthy as I've been in a long, long time as far as taking care of myself. My energy level hasn't changed. I'm enjoying life, enjoying children and grandchildren. But there's nothing like the smell of the grass of an SEC stadium in the fall.

And on the current administration at Tennessee after his falling out with his previous bosses:

"It was just a strange time (in 2008). Circumstances happened. The patience or loyalty or whatever, at that particular moment wasn't all it needed to be, in my opinion," he said. "But that's water over the dam. There's nobody (currently at UT) who had anything to do with that. And I'm a Vol. I have been my whole adult life."

Gruden is a fun name to kick around. However, what has he done as a coach? 

He won a Super Bowl when he was the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; however, it was with a team that was built from the previous coaching regime. If Gruden comes to Tennessee he’s going to be taking over a team that may be without its best player, quarterback Tyler Bray, who may leave for the NFL Draft. 

Gruden’s coaching history is short-lived in the college ranks, as he has only been a graduate assistant, a passing game coordinator and a wide receivers coach. Whereas his time as a head coach in the NFL only spanned 11 years, with a record of 95-81. 

Tennessee took a chance with Dooley in his second stint as a college football head coach, and it didn’t work out. Why would this program want to try this failed blueprint again with Gruden?

Instead, Tennessee should make a move back to Fulmer, just like Kansas State did with its current head coach, Bill Snyder.