Much ado was made of the presentation of the Neyland award to Phillip Fulmer this weekend. The award, presented by the Knoxville Quarterback Club to a coach who has made significant contributions to the game, was the perceived subject of much debate due to the timing of its presentation. After all, Fulmer would be receiving it only a few months removed from having been fired as head coach at Tennessee. Meanwhile, his successor would be preparing the team for the Orange and White game while Fulmer was presented the award.
Sure, that's all a little awkward, but it does seem the oddity was more greatly overplayed than necessary. From the fan's perspective, the honoring of Fulmer at Neyland Stadium prior to the Orange and White game went beautifully. He actually received two standing ovations - one when fans first noticed him on the field and one when he was actually announced. If there were any jeers or boos in the audience, they were unnoticed and in vain; as far as Fulmer could have heard it, the noise was all cheers.
One thing I did notice, though, was that they planned the stadium ceremony beautifully. The national anthem was played immediately after the team left the field after warmups. They brought everybody out for recognition as soon as the anthem was done and had the ceremony finished and off the field before the team came back out. The timing was such that you didn't notice if you weren't paying attention, but there was no opportunity to have Fulmer on the field at the same time as the new staff. That denied the photogs the opportunity for the "awkwrad" picture but didn't cost any unnecessary time in the logistics.
I don't know how any of the other events of the week may have transpired with Fulmer around, but the highlight of the week and the most public spectacle was handled in as classy and as respectful of a manner as possible. Nice work, fans, for nullifying all concerns about a possibly classless response on the very field Fulmer once coached.