David Cutcliffe to Tennessee? Is Phillip Fulmer the Next AD?

Larry BurtonSenior Writer IJanuary 14, 2010

Apparently, Tennessee is doing some home cooking with the apparent hiring of 55-year-old David Cutcliffe, a former two-time Volunteer offensive coordinator. Cutcliffe has head coaching experience at both Ole Miss, where he went 44-29, and the past two seasons at Duke, where he managed a 9-15 losing record.

With little interest coming from bigger names, this is at least a hire that the fans should be familiar with.

Cutcliffe is actually a graduate from the University of Alabama and was a student assistant on coach Paul "Bear" Bryant's staff to begin his coaching career.

From there, he returned to the high school where he played, Banks High School in Birmingham, Ala., where he was an assistant and then head coach from 1976 until 1981. He was then plucked from the high school ranks by Phillip Fulmer to come and be a part-time assistant in 1982.

That turned into a full-time gig the next year, coaching tight ends and serving as assistant line coach. From there, he coached quarterbacks and then assumed the offensive coordinator job in 1993, which he held until 1998.

After helping Tennessee win both an SEC title and a national championship, Cutcliffe left to take the head coaching job at Ole Miss. Cutcliffe was initially successful at Ole Miss, mainly because of a quarterback by the name of Eli Manning.

Once Manning was gone, so were the big wins, and Cutcliffe was replaced by a disaster named Ed Orgeron.

Cutliff then went to Notre Dame in 2005, where he was an assistant head coach and quarterback coach. However, he was forced to step down due to health problems.

Following successful triple-bypass surgery and getting his health back, Cutcliffe was rehired to take over his old duties as the offensive coordinator at Tennessee.

Cutcliffe was a remarkable spark that re-ignited the Volunteer offense in 2006, and he had a slew of talented players—most noticeably, quarterback Eric Ainge.

Cutcliffe's success got the attention of Duke, who needed someone to come in and help spark its program. His records of 4-8 and 5-7 in his two years at Duke indicate that this spark couldn't quite ignite the Blue Devil football program.

However, the Vols feel that he has what it takes to get to get them rolling again on offense.

The question is, with Cutcliffe being a Fulmer disciple, can Fulmer be far behind? The Volunteer fanbase is calling for Hamilton's head for orchestrating the whole Lane Kiffin fiasco, and he can't rest on the hiring of Bruce Pearl forever.

It will be an interesting few months as the SEC sorts out all kinds of coaching changes, and recruits and the Tennessee chapter won't be far from the front.