Tennesee Football Finally Does the Right Thing for Phillip Fulmer

phillip_fulmer Phillip Fulmer’s Volunteers Won the First Ever BCS National Championship Trophy
The Tennessee Volunteers won the inaugural BCS National Championship Game with Phillip Fulmer at the helm in 1998.  A decade later, coach Fulmer agreed to step down after a 5-7 season in 2008. Tennessee won ten games the year prior to his dismissal. Especially with the benefit of hindsight, it is clear the University of Tennessee was too quick to pull the rug out from under Phillip Fulmer.

Since his departure, the Volunteers have been dwelling in mediocrity.  With the exception of 2009, Tennessee has not had a winning season since they fired Fulmer.  ’09 was the infamous year of Lane Kiffin in Knoxville, and he left ole Rocky Top as soon as the University of Southern California came calling.  One can justifiably surmise USC now wishes Kiffin did not answer the phone.

Derek Dooley Tried, but the Rebuilding Work in Rocky Top was too Much
Derek Dooley went 6-7 and took the Volunteers to a bowl game during his first season in Knoxville in 2010.  Unfortunately for Barbara Dooley’s baby boy, it was all downhill from there.  The junior Dooley notched only one conference victory per year during ’11 and ’12.

Derek Dooley was fired following the 2012 campaign, on the heels of back-to-back 5-7 seasons. The highlight of coach Dooley’s three years in Knoxville may have been the win that wound up being a loss against LSU in 2010.



Butch Jones: Rebuilding Tennessee Football one Burned Bridge at a Time
According to Bleacher Report, Tennessee coach Butch Jones invited Phillip Fulmer to football practice a little over a week ago.  The article notes that coach Jones also requested that the once proud Volunteer speak to the team.

No matter how Jones fares at Tennessee, his invitation to Fulmer was a classy move that had been long overdue.  Neither Derek Dooley nor Lane Kiffin afforded Fulmer the chance to associate with the program that he coached for 16 years.

Legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson called Phillip Fulmer “Tennessee to the core.” Coach Fulmer is in the College Football Hall of Fame, and it is nice to see that Tennessee is finally making an effort to honor a man who put his heart and soul into the University of Tennessee.

Closing thought: Maybe Butch Jones can invite Lane Kiffin back in a few years?  I doubt Hell will ever get that cold.

College Football Outside of the South – Pacific 12

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Who will be the new face of Oregon football?

College Football Outside of The SEC Bubble
I love Southeastern Conference football.  As a fan, most of what I am invested in takes place within the realm of the SEC.  However, it is healthy to acknowledge that college football is played in other areas of the country as well.  This particular post will focus on college football on the west coast, specifically in the Pacific-12 Conference.

Oregon
It will be fun to see how the most dynamic offense in college football adjusts to having a new head duck. The departure of Chip Kelly to the Philadelphia Eagles sent shock waves throughout football. That is, after he decided to come back to Oregon, then he changed his mind again and left for the city of Brotherly Love. Coach Kelly leaves a legacy of being an offensive guru in Eugene, but he also helped get Oregon put on probation as a parting gift.

Mark Helfrich is now the head coach in Oregon town as he inherits a team that is loaded on offense with eight starters coming back. SB Nation revealed that one of the reasons Chip Kelly decided to try his hand in the NFL is because he knew nothing would change in the Oregon offense under Mark Helfrich, who had been the offensive coordinator for the Ducks since 2009.

Stanford
The fact that Stanford won the 2013 Rose Bowl without former quarterback Andrew Luck speaks volumes about the Cardinal commitment to success.  When the previous Stanford head coach (Jim Harbaugh) left for the National Football League, I assumed that Cardinal Football would go back to dwelling in mediocrity.  I could not have been more wrong.

The 2012 Pac-12 Conference Coach of the Year David Shaw has the fans in Stanford, California dreaming of a national championship. The Cardinal returns seven starters on offense, and a robust ten starters on the defensive side of the ball. Stanford figures to be in a tight battle with the Oregon Ducks all season long. The media gave Oregon the slight edge in their Pac-12 North preseason pick. Even so, I have always been a huge fan of the Stanford Tree.

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The Stanford Tree wreaks of awesomeness.

UCLA
I must admit to having very little interest in Bruins football once the ball is snapped. My curiosity with UCLA is triggered by their current head football coach, “Jim Mora Jr.”  The man born James Lawrence Mora (according to Wikipedia) was the head football coach in Atlanta during the Michael Vick days. His tenure began in 2004 with a bang when the Falcons played for the NFC title at the end of the season, but it ended with him being fired after the thud of back-to-back 8-8 seasons.

I have heard unconfirmed stories that coach Mora can be combative.  I never passed judgement until I was watching ESPN’s The Herd (hosted by Doug Gottlieb who was in for Colin Cowherd) and the following interview unfolded.  Given how poorly he handled the situation, I cannot take Jim Mora Jr. seriously as a leader of young men.



USC
Since leaving the Tennessee Volunteers high and dry in January of 2010, Lane Kiffin has gotten exactly what he deserved.  After leading the Trojans through their probation, USC appeared all set to fight for the college football throne once again. Hell, I picked them to lose to the Georgia Bulldogs in the BCS National Championship Game last year. The University of Southern California proceeded to go 7-6, and fall off the horse before they could even get going. The Trojans DID cap the season off by losing to a team from Georgia, Tech, that is, in the Sun Bowl. USC reportedly broke out into a brawl pitting teammate against teammate, too.

Coming into this season, about the only thing going right for Lane Kiffin is that the Los Angeles Times is reporting that he is not on the hot seat.  If the Trojans do not improve drastically in 2013, the temperature of the head coach’s chair figures to rise considerably.

The SEC Coaching Carousel: Familiar Faces in New Places

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Mike Slive, the godfather of SEC football.

Since the SEC coaching carousel has stopped spinning, we thought it would be appropriate to welcome some (sort of) familiar faces into their new Southeastern Conference home.

Pig Sooie
Arkansas: Bret Bielema- The former Wisconsin head coach spent seven years watching Badger fans at Camp Randall Stadium jump around.  Bielema helped Wisconsin become a perennial BCS contender by beating up on the Big Ten. Former Arkansas head coach John L. Smith did little to make Arkansas seem like an attractive destination, but consistent winning will help coach Bielema get more Razorbacks in the hog pen. As documented by Sports Illustrated, the new Grand Poobah of Pig football has been accused of being a bit of a jerk when he gets a big lead.

War Damn Malzahn
Auburn: Gus Malzahn- What a kick in Gene Chizik’s ass this hire had to be. After watching Chizik flounder in two seasons without Cam Newton, Auburn decided to give Gus Malzahn the keys to the War Eagle mobile. In 2010, Gus Malzahn was the offensive coordinator for Gene Chizik when the Tigers rode on Cam Newton’s back all the way to the top of college football and captured the national championship.

Much to Auburn’s chagrin, “Chiz” has completely totaled the War Eagle car since then, prompting Auburn to take away the keys. Hiring Malzahn should prove to be a wise choice for Tiger nation, but anything is better than that prick Bobby Petrino landing another SEC gig. More on Bob-O next week.

From A Joker To A Stoop
mark_stoopsKentucky
: Mark Stoops- The younger brother of Bob and Mike finally gets his opportunity to be a head coach as the Stoops family tree branches to the SEC. Unfortunately for coach Stoops, he takes over a Kentucky program that is unquestionably a basketball school. However, when Kentucky Wildcat fans are not encouraging coach John Calipari to take full advantage of the one year rule to win a championship in college basketball, they are delusional enough to expect Kentucky football to compete in a bowl game on a yearly basis. Good luck, coach Stoops. You are going to need it.

The Ghost of Phillip Fulmer
butch_jonesTennessee: Butch Jones- Butch Jones says goodbye to the Big East, and hello to the Southeastern Conference. Jones will be the third football coach to attempt to scare away the ghost of Phillip Fulmer. We are certainly not Tennessee fans, but it has been fun watching the Volunteers continue to fall after being so impatient with coach Fulmer. Tennessee has the passing game to compete with anybody in the country, but the Vols’ suspect defense and lack of a running game has prevented them from being a factor in the SEC for the last several years.

Will Butch Jones have any better luck in Knoxville than Derrick Dooley or Lane Kiffin? Consider this: Butch Jones never won the outright Big East title at Cincinnati with talent that Brian Kelly recruited. He now finds himself in the best college football conference in America, in the SEC East coaching against three potential top ten teams moving forward. The rocky road is likely to continue in good ole’ Rocky Top.