Remember, Tennessee fans, it’s not what Phillip Fulmer can do for you; it’s what you can do for Phillip Fulmer.
Category Archives: The Glass is Half Fulmer
I know we direct a fair amount of snark Tennessee’s way these days regarding the Fulmer-Pruitt relationship, but serious question here: can anyone come up with another example besides Fulmer of an athletic director who’s been so willing to thrust himself into the media limelight over the direction of a program with a new head coach?
I’m not sure what my favorite part of this story is. Is it that Phil Fulmer and not any of his head coaches is the headline act of this spring’s five-city Big Orange Caravan fan appreciation tour?
Or is it that with his shiny new contract, Fulmer is now the third highest paid athletic director in the SEC? (With a raise applied retroactively!)
This is the point where I’d ordinarily say “don’t ever change, Volnation”, but I don’t really think they need any encouragement.
“It’s definitely an edge for me being a first-time head coach to have somebody to lean on and bounce things off of, [and] I’d say a lot of folks are jealous from that standpoint,” thought no one other than Jeremy Pruitt.
Phillip Fulmer’s coaching career spanned nearly four decades. His time as an athletic director has been a little more than four months.
But, as Fulmer settles into his role as Tennessee’s athletic director after signing a four-year deal last week, the hall of fame coach believes his experience as a coach makes him uniquely equipped to handle his new duties.
“I’ve been there,” Fulmer said. “I’ve done a lot of things … I know what that’s supposed to look like. I lined the field at Wichita State, I painted the weight room, you work yourself up.”
Fulmer pointed to longtime friend and peer Barry Alvarez on how he can approach being the athletic director. Alvarez was, for a time, the Wisconsin athletic director and head football coach.
What a coincidence.
John Adams is just brainstorming here, but… well, I’ll let you ponder where this came from.
… In fact, I would be in favor of increasing UT’s football support staff even further. And I have an idea of how to do it at no additional cost.My proposal: all athletic department employees except coaches should be required to devote at least five hours of their work week to football.
Tennessee’s 2017 football press guide lists 32 senior athletic staff members. If they each gave five hours a week to football, that’s 160 more hours of manpower. And that’s just the senior staff members.
Those 160 hours could be devoted to recruiting, which is basically all about making high school seniors feel important. Think “handwritten notes.”
But the head of Tennessee’s athletic department could do more than write notes.
I thought about that when I saw a photo taken by News Sentinel photographer Caitie McMekin. The photo, taken at a Tennessee football practice, shows athletic director Phillip Fulmer looking like a football coach, which he used to be.Since Fulmer is a regular visitor to practice, new coach Jeremy Pruitt should take advantage of his presence.
Fulmer once was one of the best offensive line coaches in the SEC. And last season, Tennessee had one of the worst offensive lines in the SEC.
I realize Fulmer wouldn’t be allowed to instruct players during practice. But he could observe. He could study video. And then, he could pass along suggestions to Pruitt and offensive line coach Will Friend.
If you think that Fulmer has more important things to do as athletic director, you haven’t been paying attention. There’s nothing more important than fixing UT’s football program.
That’s why chancellor Beverly Davenport fired athletic director John Currie and replaced him with Fulmer in December when the Vols were trying to find a new football coach. Fulmer found her a coach.
That’s just the beginning, though. Now, he needs to help that coach anyway he can.
Sure, he could spend his time making the department more fiscally responsible. For example, is it really necessary for the softball team to take trips to Arizona, California and Hawaii in the same season? And what’s the point of the baseball program traveling out of state before it begins SEC play?
But is fiscal responsibility really that important when you’re raking in the big bucks like Tennessee?
Answer: Not nearly as important as fixing the offensive line.
No doubt Jeremy Pruitt is simply thrilled by this. I almost expect that Fulmer thoughtfully left a copy of the paper outside his office door.
Every head coach is under pressure to win. Pruitt needs to win just to get Fulmer out of the coaches’ room.
UPDATE: Holy crap, another media suggestion?
Would Fulmer be willing to coach if the situation called for it? Yes.
The man is working this. Hard.
I can’t wait to hear the first question about this at a Pruitt presser.
Fulmer’s about to get a multi-year deal from UT that will pay him somewhere in the neighborhood of $900 thou a year, but it’s the spin that makes it special.
Stepping up during his alma mater’s desperate time of need, with national public backlash and punchlines surrounding Currie’s failed search rampant, Fulmer – in short order – not only hired Jeremy Pruitt away from Alabama to be the Vols’ next head coach, but did so while earning a salary far below what is typical for an athletic director atop a program the scale of Tennessee’s and roughly half of Currie’s seven-figure pact.
He engineered a palace coup for peanuts, in other words. Such is greatness in Knoxville.