Which is kind of impressive when you think about, given how he thinks pretty much everyone around him and those who followed were a bunch of incompetents.
Fulmer was forced out as Tennessee’s coach during the Vols’ 5-7 campaign in 2008, one of his two losing marks in his 16 seasons as the program’s head coach. Fulmer lost 34 conference games and 52 games overall during his tenure at Tennessee. Since he left, the Vols have a 9-23 conference record and a 23-27 overall mark under Lane Kiffin (2009) and Derek Dooley (2010-12).
But don’t put all the blame for Tennessee’s slide on his successors, Fulmer said.
“I still know we’re battling from an internal standpoint to get everything aligned so we can not compete against ourselves internally but be able to compete against the outside folks,” Fulmer said. “I believe we’re making progress with that.
“Every school has down cycles. You’re not always going to be on top. Alabama just a few years ago, for example. Florida never won a championship until coach (Steve) Spurrier got there. People don’t realize that: You’re going to have your dips.
“What happened to us basically was our leadership. We had four presidents in six years. We ended up with an athletic director that wasn’t prepared for the job. Not a terrible guy or anything like that. He got twisted like a pretzel by the middle management of the university. We lost a lot of the edges that you have to have. (Current athletic director) Dave Hart’s very aware of those, and he’s working to change things. We didn’t get dumb or lazy all of a sudden. There were obviously some things that were different.
“When you have a great president and a great athletic director and you replace them with substandard people that have no idea, what do you expect is going to happen? And you do that three other times? It’s crazy.”
Mike Hamilton replaced Doug Dickey as Tennessee’s director of men’s athletics in 2003. Hamilton resigned in June 2011. Current Tennessee president Joe DiPietro is the university’s fifth in the past decade.
Of course, he may have a point about Hamilton. After all, less than a year before Fulmer was fired, the man who wasn’t prepared for the job gave him a contract extension and a raise.