One year ago today, just as Vol fans were coming to terms with the extreme disappointment of 2008 and rolling out the Wyoming Hail Mary Haiku, news broke of a pending press conference to announce the release of Phillip Fulmer as Tennessee's head coach. It was the most mournful open thread we've ever had at RTT, and video of the press conference confirms why.
We at RTT loved Fulmer, and the tributes to the man who devoted almost all of his career to the University of Tennessee football program commenced immediately. (That doesn't mean that we thought he should not have been released -- we never took a position on the matter.) The optimism rampant on Rocky Top right now is in stark contrast to the despair that permeated last season, and no one here is saying that Mike Hamilton made a mistake. Tennessee football is trending back in the right direction under Lane Kiffin, no doubt, and we're enjoying it immensely.
Yet we're hopeful that Vol fans can somehow both simultaneously appreciate the Kiffin Chimera and appreciate Fulmer's great contribution to the program. We understand that as difficult as it is for fans to reconcile their feelings toward both staffs, it has to be much, much more difficult for Fulmer to transition from where he was one year ago today to publicly supporting the program. But he is a good man, and as awkward as it must be, we hope that the day comes sooner rather than later that all wounds are healed and that Fulmer and the new regime both feel comfortable enough to join hands.