Monday, October 27, 2008

UT's Fulmer Sure Knows How to Keep a Job

"Whether it's administrative support or friends that are in crucial positions, I appreciate how everyone has handled this and has been supportive," Tennessee coach Philip Fulmer said days before his Volunteers got smashed by No. 2 Alabama 29 -9. "That's been a real positive for us. I look forward to rewarding that support."
Ah, in Tennessee support seems to be eternal: To say that Fulmer, with 17 years at the helm, is in the proverbial hot seat is an understatement. There are UT fans that loathe him. Despite this, his squad was in the SEC Championship Game a year ago, losing to LSU, the eventual national champion. But the fall this season hit everyone blindly. Not that they've lost but how bad they've looked. Against Alabama on Saturday, the Vols looked like a PAC 10 team. Of course, many say this is all just what-goes-around-style getback for a coach that hasn't been livin' right, but that's besides the point. I've never rooted for the Vols, but this free-fall has been painful to watch. The perennial 9-3 season is soooo last year. Still, Fulmer amazes me how he can keep his job. That, is truly, amazing. UT's administration must really hate going through the motions of a national hiring search, because the job ... quite literally ... is Fulmer's to lose. Forever. Of course, we all know the Volunteers program has been on a slow descent for several years. Meanwhile Alabama, Florida and Georgia, LSU have been talking about how to win championships. Maybe he peaked 10 years ago, when Spurrier's Gators were king: Then Fulmer won back-to-back SEC championships (1997 and 1998). Back then UT took a backseat to nobody, but the Gators. UT fans say the loss of David Cutcliffe, Fulmer's longtime offensive coordinator, who is now the head coach at Duke, made a huge impact. But teams lose assistants all the time. Was Cutcliffe that good?

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