Amidst all the excitement and buzz that surrounds Tennessee football this season, I have noticed that something is missing.
Coach Derek Dooley is by far a grand addition to the Tennessee family, but I can't help feeling nostalgic about what used to be. Dooley, I'm sure will return Tennessee to a state of grace, but I can't shake the feeling that former head coach Phillip Fulmer should be affiliated with the program in some way.
Truthfully, I don't think there are many Vol fans that wouldn't like to see the man from Winchester come back to Knoxville in any capacity that he would feel comfortable.
Feasibly speaking, of course, where would he be comfortable?
It's a stretch, I know, especially since Harry Hiestand is doing a tremendous job thus far.
However, it's where Fulmer got his feet wet in the coaching game. From 1972-1992, he coached the offensive line at Tennessee, Wichita State, Vanderbilt and finally back to Tennessee. And trust me, even as head coach, he never fully let go of the the offensive line reigns.
Still, I think this would be viewed by many as demeaning to Fulmer's skills, so there is no possibility of this ever transpiring.
There is very little to dispute as to the integrity of Phillip Fulmer; most, if any, of that dispute comes from his critics. For the people that know him, it is preposterous to suggest anything to the contrary. Coach Fulmer may have made a few mistakes with certain players, but he helped more than he did not.
Coach Fulmer is a God fearing man that loves his family and the University of Tennessee. Over the years, he has shaped boys into men, on and off the field. Never will you find another coach that cared about his players and how they proceeded after leaving the college careers.
"He was always honest with me and treated me like I was one of his own children."
- Jason Witten
He could do this with ease, but it would be like shooting fish in the barrel with a bazooka.
Terry Joseph is doing fine at defensive backs coach, but he could learn a thing or two from the master of living room recruiting, Fulmer in the Parlor.
He got that nickname when a Gamecock recruiter was overheard speaking to an LSU recruiter as they waited outside a prospective home of Georgia youth. The media was also on hand to interview the youth, and after that, the name sorta stuck.
But really, there is not another man that is better explaining to a parent that their university outweighs all others simply because they say so. But don't take my word for it.
"Nobody loves the University of Tennessee more than Coach Fulmer. Phillip Fulmer is the reason that I chose to come to Tennessee, and it was one of the greatest decisions I ever made. I will always be indebted to him for the impact he has made on my life and my football career. I know I speak for hundreds of players when I say it was an honor to have played for him at UT.
"I am fortunate to have played for one of the greatest coaches in the history of college football. His legacy at Tennessee will be that he built men and won championships. He will always be my coach."
As an offensive coordinator, Johnny Majors couldn't have done any better. Fulmer was 38-9 as OC. Without him, a 2-1 ratio from the previous 12 years.
His real supporters claimed that four out of five times, he knew when the opposing defense wasn't in position to defend a pass or rush.
There were many of his supporters that said if he had continued to call plays the way he did when he took over for Majors, he would have won four more BCS trophies.
I daresay he could still give Jim Chaney a run for his money.
Here is a quote from former Ole Miss head coach, Tennessee offensive coordinator and QB coach to Peyton and Eli Manning.
"Not only is Phillip a great person, he is the best football coach I've ever been associated with. His work ethic, attention to detail and recruiting efforts were lessons for all of us who were fortunate to work alongside him."
- David Cutcliffe
In all fairness, the job belongs to Derek Dooley. However, it doesn't take long to grow dissension among the fans and even your staff; just ask Fulmer. The key to staving off that growth is simple: just win...and win often...then win some more.
I will admit that I can not predict the future with any real accuracy, but I think that if Dooley does falter and things go awry, I think the majority would happily have the balding, big man back before AD Hamilton starts another nationwide search. He has a pretty decent resume, and I think he has learned his lesson.
If Dooley can't cut the mustard, bring back Phil.
Last but not least.
Here is my thinking (no racial slander intended). If a little Chinese man that speaks about 25 words of English can sell over 175 million dollars worth of money making videos, then a good old boy from the state of Tennessee with charisma and charm can raise a few bucks too.
Tennessee doesn't need a used car salesman. They need somebody who knows what football and integrity is about. There are 1,000 reasons why you want Fulmer as the AD, and all you have to do is look at the state of athletic affairs from the last three years to justify having someone else at the helm. The question is, do you want the salesman, or the one that you love, admire and respect?
And if you didn't cry when Old Yeller died, then don't bother watching the video.
P.S.S. I wonder how many signatures it would take on a petition to bring Fulmer in?
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Friday morning I'll be posting the game by game prediction, with a twist.