University of Tennessee President John Petersen on Tuesday announced a mandatory hiring freeze and a moratorium on new academic programs while defending the appointment of former head football coach Phillip Fulmer.
But it's the Fulmer three-month appointment, at $12,500 a month, that drew the ire of a faculty leader.
Thanks for 1998. For helping my senior year of high school be that much more special. For letting me and my Dad go to all the games together one more year before I went to college and his back betrayed him, and letting us see you come home a winner every single time. For that moment in Tempe when some guy I barely knew grabbed me and told me through tears that he'd been waiting his whole life for this, and that I was only 17 and I'd better appreciate it.
Thanks for making Tennessee good enough that I can lay here at 12:49 AM and write about them, and that enough people care enough about them to read it.
For years Fulmer has gathered the team, said a few kind words about each senior, then the player runs down a row of players and hits a tackling dummy. This time there was a twist. After all the seniors went down the line, Fulmer, who is coaching his last game for UT this weekend against Kentucky, ran through the formation and landed on the mat.
"The last tackle is always special as we introduce those guys," Fulmer said. "I got in on a clean-up block. I didn't have to hit (the dummy). It was already on the ground. I just cleaned it up a little bit."
When asked last week about the tragedies, Fulmer made no excuses. They had nothing to do with the poor results, nothing to do with missing a bowl game. No excuse for his firing.
But it was a lesson in perspective, Fulmer said.
His team has lost seven football games this year.
His team has lost nine family members and friends.
They are some of the worst losses of Fulmer's career.
And they have nothing to do with Alabama, Georgia or Florida.
I shouldn't even have to type this, and my voice reaches merely hundreds on this blog and not the thousands who will show up in the grand scheme of things. But don't prove the Alabama fans right, who've been saying that Vol faithful will laugh and boo Fulmer off the field in his final game. Even if Kentucky beats us by a ton and we look and play terrible.
Phillip Fulmer has given us his life. We can give him Saturday.
So to reiterate, from my perspective, our next coach has to fulfill five criteria to be worthy of replacing Fulmer: in his 40's at a maximum, with head coaching experience, a great recruiter, demonstrably smart, and striking fear into the heart of our opponent. Fulfill those five and money won't be an option. Guaranteed.
UT AD Mike Hamilton declined to comment as he left the stadium.
"I think Phillip deserves some respect tonight," Hamilton said.
"I'm not a dog that barks and then runs into the house. I'm going to do my job on a daily basis, or bark from inside the house," said the Vols' embattled coach. "I'm going to do my job and do it the right way. That's all, there's only so many hours and only so many things you can fix at one particular time and lay my head on the pillow at night and know I've done it and done it right and had a lot of success doing it. Would I have done it differently? Sure I would, looking at a couple things."
Very reliable sources have informed 3SIB that Vols head coach Phillip Fulmer WILL NOT be retained at the end of the season. Likely, an announcement won’t be made until after the Kentucky game.
That source said a 6-6 record would result in a coaching change, adding that Fulmer would not be guaranteed to save his job if the Vols go 7-5 this season.