Phil Fulmer, pride of Tennessee, is fully appreciated
Many Tennessee fans have still not gotten over the ill-advised dismissal of Phil Fulmer as head UT football coach in 2008. Four years, two failed coaches, and a fired athletic director later, many feel it was unfair.
His induction this week into the College Football Hall of Fame was well deserved, but we still hope he also will have a good opportunity to show his coaching skills.
At the time Fulmer was dismissed in late season, within the past decade his Vols had won a national championship and his all-time won-loss record was ahead of Bobby Bowden of Florida State, Joe Paterno of Penn State, and Steve Spurrier of Florida and South Carolina.
Of active coaches at that time, only four ranked ahead of Fulmer in wins and losses when he was dismissed. They were Pete Carroll of Southern California who had just encountered rules-violations problems, Urban Meyer at Florida, Bob Stoops at Oklahoma and Mark Richt at Georgia, all of whom had a higher percentage of wins over a much shorter period of time. Of the four, three had coached only seven seasons and Stoops only nine, compared to 17 for Fulmer. Of his 40 years in college football his 45-5 run (1995-98) was a highlight. A former player, he spent only six years away from the Vols during those four decades.
Fans were unhappy with losses but much of the pressure apparently came from earlier coaches. The UT defense was ranked No. 11 in the nation at the time he was released.
College football coaching is tough. Year in and year out, none equals the powerful Southeastern Conference.
Blount Countians are pleased the Fulmer family resides in Maryville. We are especially proud of the role Phil and Vicky and their family have in the Blount community and East Tennessee. Those who keep up with the activities of many worthwhile organizations in the area are well aware they have given their personal support and involvement for the benefit of others.
We can’t change the past but we think the entire community should show its warm appreciation for what Phil Fulmer did for Tennessee and efforts which both he and Vicky continue to make ours a better community in which to live.