Phillip Fulmer and the Tennessee Volunteers: Surviving the Fat One

Scott RiversContributor INovember 3, 2008

After a 16-plus year tenure as head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers, the relationship between Phillip Fulmer and the Vols is officially over, signaling the end of an era for the SEC’s perennial powerhouse team.

Fulmer’s illustrious career as Vols head coach ended on a sour note after a crushing defeat to SC, 27-6. The once-proud SEC squad now boasts a pitiful 3-6 record, leaving the team one loss away from a guaranteed losing season record.

It’s been a long and exciting ride, one that brought Tennessee back to national prominence, highlighted by an undefeated national championship season in 1998 that was the culmination of a magical four-year stretch that saw the Vols go 45-5.

Fulmer was always regarded as a top recruiter, the man who landed Manning (Peyton), and a conscious coach that showed his players a lot of patience—a tactic that likely played a central role in his fall from grace.

Over the past decade as Fulmer’s fortune has faltered, he has been unable to recruit a reliable QB, he has stuck to his guns stubbornly calling offensive schemes that his detractors called predictable at best, he has relied on a trademark smashmouth defense to try to win games, and he has successfully alienated his core fanbase by committing the unforgivable sin: losing.

As sad as the end of his tenure might look, it is probably in the best interests of the team.  The team is still regarded as a prime program, and a change of head coach should give the program a good selling point for prospective recruits that presently were dissuaded by the free-fall the team has been in the past years despite its prominent national profile.

As the Fat One (Fulmer’s nickname) prepares to part ways with the Vols, Nashville is all gossip and talk as the list of prospective coaches is quickly forming.

The names on the table:

Ron Zook

Lane Kiffin

Mike Leach

Butch Davis

Steve Spurrier

Brian Kelly

Will Muschamp

Tim Brewster

Jon Gruden

Personally I am rooting for Jon Gruden. I think the match is perfect both ways. College would give Jon Gruden a chance at coaching a plausible national champion, something he will not be able to do in TB anytime in the near future.

Tennessee would get a proven winner, a household name coming straight from the NFL with a ring, who would immediately attract prospective recruits. It would also be a good match for Tennessee’s playing style to recruit a coach known for his aggressive defensive tactics., a leading online sportsbook based out of Costa Rica, has come up with odds on who will replace Fulmer.

Ron Zook                                              5/1

Lane Kiffin                                            10/1

Mike Leach                                           3/1

Butch Davis                                          15/1

Steve Spurrier                                      20/1

Brian Kelly                                            7/1

Will Muschamp                                      4/1      

Tim Brewster                                        5/1

Jon Gruden                                           2/1

Other                                                   1/5


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