Phillip Fulmer's Last Season Could Be the Worst in Volunteer History

c dockensCorrespondent INovember 8, 2008

Last Saturday's loss to Wyoming may have been the most embarrassing loss in the history of the UT football program.

On Monday, Nov. 3, Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer announced he was being forced to resign as the head coach.

At the time of Fulmer's announcement, the Volunteers were 3-6, and would have to win all three of their remaining games to be bowl eligible.

The three teams on the schedule for the Vols were Wyoming, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt. Now if you were asked to pick which one of the three remaining games Tennessee would be most likely to lose, most people would say Kentucky, and then Vanderbilt, or maybe Vandy then Kentucky.

Almost no one would have said Wyoming.

The Wildcats were 6-3 Monday, and two of their losses were by less than seven points. With the way the Wildcats have been playing defense, there is little doubt they can stop the sorry excuse for offense Tennessee has shown.

Vanderbilt was 5-3 on the day Fulmer made his announcement, and many Tennessee fans knew all the Vols had to look forward to the rest of this year was a chance to ruin the eason for their instate rival, who will likely come into the last game of the season 5-5 needing to beat a struggling Tennessee program to go to a bowl game, or else Vandy will go into the Wake Forest game in a must-win situation.

The chance to hand Vanderbilt a season-ending, heart-breaking loss has been the one ray of sunshine for Tennessee students, fans, players, and even coaches.

However, after the way the Vols played this weekend, I don't think they have a shot at Vandy, and not a prayer against Kentucky.

The Vols lost to Wyoming, 13-7, marking only the second time in history the Vols have had seven losses in a season.

While Tennessee was embarrassing themselves, Kentucky was fighting an uphill battle against Georgia that they would lose late in the game, and Vanderbilt was futilely trying to reach the six-win plateau by upsetting Florida.

Even though Tennessee's two remaining opponents lost too this past weekend, they looked more impressive than the Vols.

Offensive ineptitude was rampant for Tennessee, as they turned the ball over twice in key situations. All 13 of Wyoming's points came off turnovers. The Vols barely broke 200 total yards on a team that allows on average 330 ypg.

The Vol's defense also failed to show up, allowing Wyoming to outgain the Vols, but really is out gaining the Vols all that impressive, I think not.

The bottom line is Tennessee lost to a bottom feeding team from a vastly inferior conference. The Vols lost to a team that is 1-5 in the MWC, a team that won its three other games against North Dakota State, Ohio, and San Diego State.

The other three teams Wyoming has beaten have a combined record of 8-21, a large portion of those wins being against D-2 teams. To put the loss into perspective, Wyoming has scored more than seven points in just five games this season. Tennessee scored less against Wyoming than any team has this season.

Judging by the pitiful performance against Wyoming, it is a safe bet that the Vols will lose to Kentucky, dropping to 3-8, the first time ever Tennessee will have lost eight game in a season.

If Tennessee loses to Kentucky, any morale that was left over from their loss to Wyoming will surely be gone, and there is no reason to expect the Vols to upset Vanderbilt.

Yes, the Vols-Dores game is a rivalry, but the way Tennessee is playing, they only team they can beat is themselves, and even that is a stretch.

Tennessee will be demoralized, and worn down physically and emotionally, and while there would be nothing sweeter left for the Vols than to ruin Vandy's season, there simply isn't enough left in the tank in Knoxville.

With Tennessee on the fast track to an all-time worst nine-loss season, I have one piece of advice for Vols fans.

Fans, it is time to say goodbye, not just to this season, but to a decent football program in Knoxville. With the departure of Fulmer, goes the departure of a respectable program. Well, that is already gone, but you get my drift.

Unless Tennessee brings in a big-time coach, or Cutcliffe returns, the Vols are most likely in for a long, tough, next five to 10 years.

Lets face it, the Tennessee job isn't exactly a dream job. There is a reason that UT has the highest recruiting budget, it is because they have to compete with Mississippi, Auburn, Alabama, Georgia, and Kentucky for recruits.

The state of Tennessee is pillaged by other teams, and the talent often winds up at schools other than the University of Tennessee.

The next coach better secure in-state recruiting, but the state of Tennessee as a whole doesn't yield enough talent, and the next coach will have to branch out and attempt to steal recruits from other teams' backyards, and it won't be easy, given Tennessee's current records.

What's going to attract recruits? Tennessee won't have a lot to offer. A new coach, an unstable coaching staff, and a chance at conference mediocrity isn't exactly what every recruit is looking for.

To Tennessee fans, I say good luck. It isn't going to be fun, nor will it be easy. Speaking as a Bama fan, I know what 10 years of mediocrity is like.

We have had three decent years in the last 10, and this season will be the fourth. We are just finally rising out of the mid-pack of the SEC West. In seven to 12 years, you will too.

Hang in there. It will be tough, but better days will come.