Fulmer definitely wants to coach again

 

New York–The last time August rolled around and Phillip Fulmer WASN’T getting ready for a football season, he was in the sixth grade in his native Winchester, Tenn.

“When this time of the year finally came I knew I was going to miss coaching,” said Fulmer. “I just didn’t know I would miss it this much.”

As a player, assistant coach and head coach, Fulmer has spent most of the past 40 years at the University of Tennessee. In 17 years as head coach, Fulmer had won 152 games, two SEC championships, one national championship (1998) and took the Volunteers to the SEC championship game five times, the last appearance coming as recently as 2007. But last November, as the Volunteers stumbled towards a 5-7 finish, athletics director Mike Hamilton informed Fulmer that the time had come to make a change.

“It was tough. I’m not going to kid you,” Fulmer said. “Given our track record, I certainly believed we could get things turned back around if given a chance. But that wasn’t what happened. I understand the business. I knew I was going to be fine.”

With his 59th birthday coming up on Sept. 1, Phillip Fulmer wants his friends to know he is fine. He was in New York this week getting ready for a new assignment as a college football analyst for the CBS College Sports Network. Fulmer and I did an SEC/Big 12 preview show together that will run on CBS College later this month. We also enjoyed a nice dinner out on the town where we had a chance to catch up on what he’s been doing since parting ways with Tennessee.

“My priest told me that I should take a sabbatical where I would rest, study, and pray and I took that to heart,” said Fulmer. “I did more fun things than I’ve done in a long, long time. We have a new grandson that I’m enjoying. I’ve enjoyed my family a lot more. I’ve gotten involved in an investment business where I’m a partner. The good news is that I don’t have to do anything. But it’s not in my DNA not to be doing something.”

Fulmer is set financially but he took the TV gig because he wanted to stay involved in the game and keep his face out there. He is very clear on this: If the right opportunity comes along, he wants to get back into coaching for the 2010 season.

“I absolutely want to coach again. I’m young and I feel young,” Fulmer said. “Given what we accomplished at Tennessee I still think we have something to contribute. We had a lot of success at Tennessee.”

But Fulmer also made it clear that he will only return to coaching at a school that is committed to winning championships.

“I think the commitment comes from the administration in terms of facilities, hiring the best possible staff and giving them the tools to succeed,” Fulmer said. “It would be silly for me at this point to go start up a program. Building new programs is very important work. But that is not what I want to do at this point.”

Fulmer is doing television to remain close to the game. He is also making his own personal tour to NFL camps trying to add to his knowledge base. When he left New York on Wednesday, Fulmer rented a car and drove to Albany where he attended the Giants training camp.

“People who know me know that I’m not afraid of change and to learn new things,” said Fulmer. “I’m not afraid to take a chance. We showed that went we went from (quarterback) Petyon Manning (in 1997) to Tee Martin (in 1998). They were both great players but had success in different ways.

“Of course that (willingness to try new things) probably bit me in the butt last year.” Fulmer was referring to his hiring of former Richmond head coach Dave Clawson as his offensive coordinator in 2008. The move was intended to create some new offensive wrinkles after the departure of OC David Cutlicliffe to Duke. It did not work and was one of the contributing factors to Fulmer’s ultimate dismissal at Tennessee.

Fulmer is very guarded when he discusses the new Tennessee coaching staff, led by Lane Kiffin. He believes that former head coaches are supposed to be like former presidents. You don’t talk about the new guy.

But in our show he did say this when asked about Tennessee: “In football, if you’re going to talk, you better be able to back it up.”

So Fulmer is going to work hard at television but have some fun. He’s going to learn as much as he can and if the phone rings in November and December and opportunity knocks again, he’ll have a decision to make.

“People who are close to me tell me I don’t have to do this (go back to coaching). It is a valid discussion,” Fulmer said. “Figuring all that out is what this fall is going to be all about. My plan is to enjoy it.”

 

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158 comments Add your comment

The Rifleman

August 20th, 2009
9:13 am

The next coach at Louisville…..

Saint Simons

August 20th, 2009
9:13 am

(((((45-42))))) hahahahahahaha. WTF took you so long barny?

Bill in Sandy Springs

August 20th, 2009
9:36 am

Hey TB,

My brother’s girlfriend’s a lifelong Texas AM Aggie fan. The Aggies are currently stuggling under Mike Sherman despite the great recruiting effort. I know it’s still early in his stay in College Station but if things don’t shape up this season they may run out of patience anyway.

Would a place like Texas AM be a place for Fulmer to land his next job?

Kid Ray

August 20th, 2009
9:37 am

UofL would be perfect for Fulmer…Good school…BCS league but a little more off the radar than UT. Also could see him at Wisc if Bielema falters again.

Kramers2009

August 20th, 2009
9:37 am

South Carolina?

Kramers2009

August 20th, 2009
9:41 am

Wiscosin would be hilarous.. hell, Fulmer is use to having to rely on recruiting out of state talent. He succesfully went out of state in Knoxville.. maybe he could talk some kids in to coming up to Madison. They do have a rabit fan base. I would love to see Phil go up there and dominate the big ten.

Jon

August 20th, 2009
9:41 am

If I’m TAMU I would go after Tuberbille before Fulmer.

Bill in Sandy Springs

August 20th, 2009
9:42 am

Louisville sounds like the money pick for Fulmer’s next stop. Wisconsin is a realistic possibillity if Bielema continues on the same path he is on.

Jon

August 20th, 2009
9:43 am

Spurrier is not going anywhere Kramers 09

Dink

August 20th, 2009
9:43 am

Seems like Father Time is not on his side. Too many young, up & coming coaches these days.

Tony, I’m looking forward to the return of “Talking Football” September 3. Who is taking over for Tee Martin?

Go Dawgs!

Bill in Sandy Springs

August 20th, 2009
9:47 am

I am not sure if A&M could afford Tuberville but they might get Fulmer at a discount.

GWJ

August 20th, 2009
9:49 am

Fulmer can go to South Carolina and win 6-7 games a year….just like everybody else that’s EVER coached at USC.

Gator Nation

August 20th, 2009
9:50 am

Tuberville will be head coach of Miami if they dont get at least 8 but possibly 9 wins this season.

We the people

August 20th, 2009
10:03 am

He will not coach in the SEC again. The Big 12 or the “Slack 10″ might be suitable for his XL Pumpkin Ego.

SuperB

August 20th, 2009
10:04 am

Fulmer needs to keep his house in Knoxville. By November the Vols will be trying to hire him back to replace the large mouth bass they employed to run them further into shallow water.

Why don't these guys just...

August 20th, 2009
10:09 am

…go off into the sunset quietly? He probably will not be hired anywhere other than a 1AA school – as Dink said, too many good young coaches out there deserving a chance and good D1 athletics directors know that in these financial times they can roll the dice for less money than roll the dice on a probably overpaid FORMERLY successful coach – no matter what the name on the former coach says.

Chuck Uga

August 20th, 2009
10:11 am

I still say UT made a big mistake. Just watch.

Fulmer will not leave the south for a new position. He won’t have to. Louisville or an ACC school will likely land him. Don’t be shocked to one day see him alongside David Cutcliffe (again). I just hope we (UGA) won’t have them on our schedule (oh well, UGA has a home-and-home coming up with Louisville. Crap). I just pray he doesn’t end up at Ga Tech when Paul Johnson leaves.

PTC DAWG

August 20th, 2009
10:11 am

Best of luck to Fulmer…..I don’t see him at South Carolina either, as they aren’t committed to winning anything.

Brad in Jasper

August 20th, 2009
10:12 am

Hard to see Fulmer leaving the Southeast Region (not SEC necessarily) with his background and ties, although he did recruit nationally at UT. Nutt was able swap schools in the SEC West, but even with a vacancy I don’t see him back in the SEC soon, esp. not in the East – though stranger things have happened.

Gatorzone

August 20th, 2009
10:14 am

UT will Bring back the big man. They will regret their current coaching choice

JoeV

August 20th, 2009
10:16 am

When Spurrier gets waxed by the SEC and Clemson again, he’ll bolt for the greener pastures of Augusta National. Then USuC can hire another washed up National Championship winning coach and ruin his career and legacy. That’s what they do best there. Its a coaching graveyard and Fulmer would be a perfect fit.

Ryan

August 20th, 2009
10:17 am

No athletic director is going to get close to the dirtiest coach in NCAA history, sport notwithstanding.

David

August 20th, 2009
10:19 am

The 1st thing he needs to do is lose a 100 lbs. He needs to call Ralph at Maryland to get some advice. After all the arrests at UT during the last few years, it showed he did not have control of the program. Each time Cutcliffe left UT, the offense struggled. I can’t see any major program taking a chance on him.

Bamafan

August 20th, 2009
10:19 am

Some of my bama friends may think I have lost my mind, but I hope Fulmer gets back in coaching and does well. I had a UT friend talk to about want Fulmer was trying to protect his home turf talking about Memphis recruiting and trying to stop Logan Young from buying football players to Alabama. I
know most Alabama fans hates Fulmer guts, but we need to move on and put this in the closet for good. Fulmer has done a lot of good thinks for people in Knoxville and the great state of Tennessee.

Brew

August 20th, 2009
10:25 am

Hope he does get another job. Maybe he’ll work a little harder at his next job because he won’t have the sense of entitlement or have built up enough “equity” (his word) he felt at UT.

Ron Mexico

August 20th, 2009
10:26 am

Florida State, when Bowden doesn’t leave and Fisher doesn’t stay.

Brew

August 20th, 2009
10:27 am

Ryan, my friend, you are so mistaken. The dirtiest coach in the NCAA did just get hired…at UK in basketball. However, this is a topic about Fulmer.

HURRA-CRANE

August 20th, 2009
10:30 am

I see Fulmer being the next coach at Georgia Tech. Yup. I said good ole Tech. Paul Johnson is a hack. He will not have the ability to surprise anyone with his High School offensive approach like he did last year. Johnson can’t recruit and fat Phil can. Write it down NERDS! Tech will go 5-7 this year and not sniff a bowl. Fat Phil will swoop and get Johnson on the road back to the ‘boro. Saint Simons, tell your wife I said hello!

Atlanta Gator

August 20th, 2009
10:35 am

Phil Fulmer was a Division I head coach for 17 seasons, all at Tennessee, his alma mater. His Volunteer teams won 152 of 204 games played (or almost 75%); only Steve Spurrier among SEC coaches had a higher winning percentage. His Vols played in 15 bowl games (including 3 BCS Bowls and 4 Citrus Bowls), and won 8; only 2 teams did not go bowling.

He was 11-6 against UGA, 11-5 against Alabama, and 5-12 against the Gators (more wins against Florida than any other coach during the same time). His Vols played in the SEC Championship game 4 times, and won twice. His 1998 team won the first BCS championship game. His record is even more remarkable because he was backed up behind the Evil Genius’ SEC-dominant Gators for 10 of his 17 years as coach.

Yeah, I think Fulmer can coach. He’s 58 years old. Only question is, does he still have the fire? I’ll let the coach speak for himself.

[...] Mr.College Football aka Tony Barnhart had dinner with Phillip Fulmer and the former Vol coach definitely wants back into coaching.   I don’t see Fulmer returning to the SEC but you never know.  I could see Fulmer landing at a smaller program were a name like his could mean big things for recruiting.  The name that has been repeatedly thrown around is Louisville.  Steve Kragethorpe isn’t exactly doing a bang up job there so a change could come at the end of this season if things don’t get better. [...]

athensdawg

August 20th, 2009
10:43 am

It will be interesting to see where the great pumpkin ends up. Somebody should at least snatch him up as an OL coach.

DawginLex

August 20th, 2009
10:45 am

Fulmer will coach again at the D-1 level. To think someone won’t hire him is foolish. I could see him at TAM. My bet is UVA after Groh goes 4-8 this year, they will be looking for a new coach.

LSU TIGER

August 20th, 2009
10:47 am

Maybe Curry will go back to Tech………I don’t think they bricks in windows at Tech, just dead fish at Catholic coach’s and players……all class over at the flats……..

Old Dawg

August 20th, 2009
10:48 am

I know it’s a long shot, but several former D-I coaches have coached on the high school level and enjoyed it. They don’t consider it a step down, rather a way to teach fundamental football and mentoring to youngsters. I know his high school team, Franklin County, TN, could use some help redeveloping the program.

Johnny Fontane

August 20th, 2009
10:57 am

Sitting at the same dinner table as Fulmer can be dangerous. Be careful reaching for a roll.

baconboy

August 20th, 2009
10:58 am

He might also be well served to go somewhere as a position coach or coordinator for few years and see how that goes. I’m thinking of what Dan McCarney has done at Florida after being a head coach that got let go. Sometimes you need to get in the trenches again before you can lead effectively. And since he spent his whole coaching career at Tennessee, it might also benefit him to see another program before he goes to take over another one.

won't be going

August 20th, 2009
10:59 am

Phil won’t be going back to UT, regardless of how poorly boycoach does, which figures to be poorly, indeed. First off, why would he go back to the same president and athletic director that fired him? Second, since when do a.d.’s and university president’s admit mistakes?
He’s articulate, fairly personable and seems to be a perfect fit on television. I mean, he actually has a distinguished record as a coach, unlike Corso, or the perpetual probation machine Holtz, who is the embodiment of all that the term d-bag implies. Just keep him out of the SEC and away from Cutcliffe. Those guys did a number on us more than we did them here in Athens.

dawgstephen

August 20th, 2009
11:03 am

I think he needs to coach again. He is a winner. I dont like Tennessee or Fulmer, but he didnt deserve to go out the way he did. Of course those who remember how he GOT the job at UT would say karma is a mean mean thing. I think he would do just fine somewhere else..maybe SC…haha

http://www.dawgstephen.blogspot.com

dawgstephen

August 20th, 2009
11:05 am

Atlanta gator….that is a great post. Very well done.

DublDawg

August 20th, 2009
11:06 am

Fulmer referred to his priest. Would that be a Catholic priest?

Maybe he will end up at Notre Dame to replace the unwashed fatboy that they have now. In the end, Notre Dame would probably be happier with a Catholic bigboy that cannot win than the one it has.

Otto

August 20th, 2009
11:06 am

Fulmer wants to be back in coaching? Does Cutcliff need an OL coach?

Tubby is a good coach if you can get Borges along with him to run the offense. They could be an ACC title contender but I don’t see it being a national power like Miami wants.

Miles

August 20th, 2009
11:09 am

Having alluded to his priet’s advice, maybe Fulmer will land at Notre Dame…

HH

August 20th, 2009
11:10 am

Ron Mexico: Florida State has Richt locked up. Poor old Phil will have to look elsewhere. Cheer up, UGA fans. Richt will take Willie with him, AND, maybe even Bozo.

Miles

August 20th, 2009
11:11 am

DublDawg…Sorry, I didn’t see your comment until mine had posted…I guess we’re on the same page…

Mining For More Nuggets | MrSEC.com

August 20th, 2009
11:13 am

[...] Barnhart of The AJC caught up with Phillip Fulmer to talk about his plans.  In case you haven’t heard, he still wants to coach.  (He’s certainly keeping his [...]

sact

August 20th, 2009
11:13 am

wish i could feel sorry for him,……..but i remember how he got the job and how he did in a pretty good coach, (that i didnt particularly like) while he was down……….so …………it comes around!!!! and …….texas a&m can afford and pay anyone they want………just watch

Miles

August 20th, 2009
11:14 am

Mr. Barnhart, any word on Jeff Bower? He’s in a similar situation to Fulmer. Any chance we’ll see him again as a head coach?

Rover

August 20th, 2009
11:19 am

Dude needs to lose 200 pounds. It would help him tremendously in life and in selling himself for a comeback.

mgoodr00

August 20th, 2009
11:21 am

I agree with the the above comment about Tuberville going back to his roots at Miami. I’m sure Jimmy Johnson would put in a good word. Matter of fact I wouldn’t be suprised to see Ed Orgeron end up in Miami as well. I would be suprised if Orgeron stays at Tennessee for more than two years. As for Fulmer I would be suprised if he doesn’t get back into coaching in some way. I also wonder if hasn’t been quietly mentioned by Jason Witten to Jerry Jones as a possible replacement for Wade Phillips in Dallas if things dont go right there.

Navigator

August 20th, 2009
11:25 am

He’ll never get a top assistant’s job after what he did to Johnny Majors, so it’s head coach or permanent retirement.