Earlier this week, Phillip Fulmer found out just how tough life in college football is these days for head coaches.
On Tuesday, Fulmer held a press conference just yards away from the stadium in which he compiled a 150-51 record, with two SEC Championships and a National Championship in 1999.
This press conference, however, had a different feel than any other he had delivered in his 17 years as head coach of the Volunteers.
“Our Tennessee family is united in its goals, but divided in the right path to get there. I love Tennessee too much to let her stay divided,” Fulmer said.
Tennessee's athletic director, Mike Hamilton, felt it was the right move to make after a tumultuous past few years, the last straw stemming from this season's disappointing 3-6 start (1-5 in SEC play).
“Our discussions leading to coach Fulmer’s announcements today did not come without great consternation or thought,” said Hamilton, who acknowledged Monday’s announcement was created in the last 24 hours. “But in my opinion, it’s the best solution given our current circumstances.”
With Fulmer joining a growing list of college coaches on the chopping block, it leaves one guessing as to what it takes to maintain job security in this day in college football.
Excluding Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno, it seems programs are shifting from the iconic, old-school coaches, and heading towards a younger, new-school approach.
Even Bowden and Paterno have had their names tossed around amidst coaching controversies.
Young, fiery coaches seem to be most successful in reaching today's young athletes. Urban Meyer with Florida and Nick Saban with Alabama head this long list.
Athletic directors seem to point to poor coaching, but impatience within the universities, and young players who can't take criticism also play decisive factors.
Joe Tiller, head coach of Purdue, has made it clear he puts partial blame on the athletes, caught up in today's technology, and focused more on individual goals than the team's overall success.
Tiller, after this his 11th season with Purdue, will step down at the end of the year.
Athletes are frequently seen sending text messages on the sidelines, being interviewed daily by media outlets, and concerned about their position in the NFL Draft.
So blame the athletes, the coaches and programs, or the media and today's society?
The answer lies within a combination of all three, depending on who's answering.
Great riches come with even greater responsibility, as I like to say.
Coaches are paid millions of dollars by these universities to recruit these young, talented athletes and produce on the field with victories and championships.
So you'll have to pardon these coaches for being paranoid, that cold breeze gently touching the back of their necks isn't the cold wind attributed to late-autumn football, but the breath of athletic directors keeping a close eye on their investments and their football teams.