Many things are sure in Southeast Tennessee. One of those things is that every year Phillip Fulmer will be wearing the headset on the sidelines in Neyland Stadium.
Sorry, next year is different.
For the first time in years, Fulmer will not be in a headset for the Tennessee Volunteers every Saturday, or any Saturday for that matter.
Being a Florida fan, this shouldn't bother me, but I am from just below Knoxville, TN myself. There is a weird sense of anxiety about Tennessee football now. Everyone has disbelief in a team that was once a program of national prominence.
While I hate the Tennessee Volunteers on any given Saturday, I still have ties to them, so that when I arrive home I can discuss with my friends and family how great the game was or, "Wow, did you see that game?"
Things have changed.
I now go home to people who would rather do yard work or go to the park than go watch the Tennessee Volunteers play football.
My question is this: What can be done to turn around such a team that has no faith, no fire, and no passion?
The team has talent! There is no lack of talent ever on those sidelines, even with names like Jim Bob Cooter for your QB.
I sat in awe last Saturday as I watched a team merely get beat by the worst team in the Mountain West Conference, Wyoming. It was a horrible day for Volunteer football. I sat and watched to see what the reaction would be from the announcement of Fulmer leaving, and there was not one bit of passion in the stadium.
The fans were quiet, the coaches were just there, and the players just played as if it were a pick-up game.
Did I mention that this was the Homecoming game?
So with all these things said, how can Tennessee bring the program back to national prominence? I find it hard to ask this question, being a Gator fan and seeing Tennessee go to the SEC championship last year. It seems like a ridiculous statement and question, but it is true.
I think the answer is a good coach—not that Phil was bad—who will spark a fire and mold players into a great team and spark momentum into a limping program.
Who this person will be, I don't think any of us are very sure right now. All I can personally say is that I miss seeing dominant games in Knoxville and talking trash, because now, Knoxville seems to be merely another urban area on Saturdays where the last place you go is to the game.
Sad times. Let's hope someone good comes in and does something for such a historic program. It's always nice to see teams bounce back and restore their legacy!