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.