Wednesday, November 5, 2008

End of an Era

University of Tennessee head football coach Phillip Fulmer announced Monday that he would not return next season. While on the verge of tears Fulmer explained that he would coach the Vols for the remainder of this season.

In 17 years as head coach Fulmer amassed the second highest winning percentage of any college coach with a record of 150-51. Fulmer won two SEC Championships and the 1998 National Championship during his tenure. He coached future NFL stars like Payton Manning, Jamal Lewis, Al Wilson, Albert Haynesworth and Peerless Price.

This season is the culmination of a slow decline in national prestige for the football program on Rocky Top. With a 3-6 record and 1-5 SEC record fans and administration alike recognize that it’s time for a change.

With the SEC East being one of the toughest divisions in any conference in the country, Tennessee simply cannot fall any further behind. Georgia, Florida and Alabama have catapulted ahead of the Vols with new coaches Mark Richt, Urban Meyer, and Nick Saban. Between 2000 and 2008 Fulmer was 11-16 against these three powers. This simply doesn’t cut it in a program that expects championships.

So where do the Vols go from here? The short list of possible new coaches consists of: Lane Kiffin, Minnesota Head Coach Tim Brewster and Boise State Head Coach Chris Peterson. No matter who gets the job, the pressure will be intense as Vols fans expect to win immediately.

It is sad that such a great man is essentially being forced out of his job. Few other coaches are more respected or have won more games. But, it is obvious to everyone who follows the program that a new direction is needed. However, we will always respect Phillip Fulmer.

~ David Cowart

No comments: