College Football (Div-I)

SEC Football: The Big Shakeup in Knoxville

Let’s go back in time. Back to a time where the football program in Knoxville was a prominent one. Their quarterback was just getting started on his path to becoming one of the best the game has ever seen. Those were the good ole days for the Volunteers of Tennessee. Long gone are the likes of Peyton Manning, Al Wood, Travis Henry, Tee Martin and others. The names that had the Vols at or near the top of the football world every year. Their head coach was none other than Phillip Fulmer.

Now, Fulmer wasn’t always the head coach in Knoxville. No, he began as a linebackers coach and defensive coordinator for the Vols back in 1973. He would move on to Wichita St. and Vanderbilt. He would return to Knoxville in 1980 and serve under Johnny Majors. Midway through the 1992 season, he would take over for Majors as the head football coach. He would build Tennessee into a perennial power in the SEC and the country and in 1998, he led the Vols to the first BCS National Championship. Unfortunately, a decline in the program over the next few years would ultimately lead to his dismissal in 2008.

He was followed by Lane Kiffin, Derek Dooley and Butch Jones over the next nine years. This was a time that saw the Tennessee program hit lows it had never seen in its storied history. This past year, the Vols had their worst season in school history finishing 4-8 for the year and losing their head coach in Jones.

The task for AD John Currie was simple. Go out and get a coach that would bring back the pride and the glory days for the Orange of Tennessee. Names like Mullen, Fisher, and Kelly moved on to new teams quickly leaving the Vols to try to figure out who would they get. So, Currie decided that he would go to Washington St head coach Mike Leach and see if they could work something out. But, while locking up a deal with his new coach, Currie was summoned back to Knoxville by Chancellor Beverly Davenport before he could get his guy. What came next pretty much shocked Vol Nation.

Mike Leach

After a disastrous coaching search that saw three coaches say no, Davenport decided to relieve Currie of his duties as the AD and replace him with Fulmer. Currie is technically suspended and Fulmer gets the interim tag for now, but Davenport did say he will be the AD for the foreseeable future.

So now, Fulmer will be tasked with finding the new football coach and bringing back stability to a program he loves dearly. Former players, coaches, and alumni are praising the move for a program in dire need of a strong stable figure to lead them. At the press conference, Fulmer was asked about the head coach search. He began by reminding us all that he was not a head coach when he got started. He talked about a coach with experience but would not eliminate the possibility of a fresh new face without head coaching experience.

One name that has been thrown around is former Vols national championship quarterback, Tee Martin. He is currently the offensive coordinator at USC, but some are questioning if it is too early for him to become a head coach. Others are saying that a Fulmer and Martin pairing would bring the needed stability back to Rocky Top. That they would be willing to allow Tee time to grow into the position and learn from his legendary AD.

No matter who Fulmer ultimately decides on, Vol nation is at its peak when it comes to apathy. Apathy for all the losing and embarrassment that should not be associated with Tennessee football. All the fans want is to have a football team that they can be proud of. A team they can have fun watching again as opposed to what is now the laughing stock of college football.

The fanbase is tired, so very tired of losing. They are tired of spending money that feels like a yearly waste now. They do not have that feeling of a winner anymore and have not for a long time now. As a matter of fact, the last time Vol Nation stuck their chests out with pride, their championship football coach was one Phillip Fulmer. He is now back in the Big Chair and charged with bringing back the pride on the hill in Knoxville.

After all the turmoil and losing over that last nine years, Vol fans feel a bit of hope for the first time in a long time. They long to once again shout from the top of their lungs: Good Ol’ Rocky Top Rocky Top, Tennessee.


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