Next Fulmer timeout will be rest
Posted: Friday, November 21, 2008 7:47 pm
By: By BETH RUCKER, Associated Press WriterKNOXVILLE (AP) — Dave Clawson is a bit
KNOXVILLE (AP) — Coach Phillip Fulmer plans to take some time to reflect after this season of football — his last with Tennessee after 17 years.
Fulmer, who is being forced out of his job at the end of this season, said he’s spoken with former Tennessee coach and athletic director Doug Dickey, former Tennessee coach Bill Battle and recently retired Michigan coach Lloyd Carr about what his next step should be.
“They all encourage you, don’t do anything too fast or don’t do anything,” he said.
The coach has already had a few weeks to reflect. Fulmer and athletic director Mike Hamilton announced Nov. 3 that he wouldn’t return after the end of the season.
Fulmer said that “the fires still burn real deep to coach,” but acknowledged that his family has paid a price for the time he’s spent dedicated to the profession for the past 35 years, including the time he spent as an assistant.
Hamilton has said he’s asked Fulmer to stay at Tennessee in some sort of administrative capacity, but the coach hasn’t said if he’s interested.
“I’ve used the phrase ’coaching is what I do, it’s not who I am,”’ Fulmer said. “I think there’s a lot of things I can do. I’m gonna take some time and reflect and try to figure that out.
“If a great opportunity came up that I really felt good about, certainly I would look at that,” he added.
But he’s not saying what kind of opportunity would classify as great, at least not while Tennessee (3-7, 1-5 Southeastern Conference) has games remaining against Vanderbilt (6-4, 4-3) on Saturday and Kentucky the following week. After that, good luck finding him.
“(For) two weeks, it’s this team. Then you’re going to have to really look for me,” he said.
INSIDER INFO: Tennessee wide receiver Gerald Jones has a little bit of insider information related to the school’s search for his next coach.
No, he doesn’t have a clue who the next coach will be, he just knows some things about one of the potential candidates.
“The only person’s offense I know about is Mike Leach, and that’s because my best friend plays for Texas Tech. That would be great for the receivers. That’s all I know,” Jones said.
Jones said he spoke Sunday with his best friend, Tramain Swindell, a Texas Tech redshirt freshman receiver who attended the same high school as Jones. Swindell mentioned he’d heard Leach might interview for the Tennessee job.
“I was like, ’That would be bittersweet,”’ Jones said. “He said, ’What do you mean?’ I said, ’I’ll be happy as hell, but it sucks for you.’ So we laughed about that.”
Other rumored candidates include Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly, North Carolina coach Butch Davis, former Oakland Raiders coach Lane Kiffin, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden.
HAMILTON SURFACES: Tennessee athletics director Mike Hamilton made an appearance on a WNOX radio show in Knoxville on Wednesday, even though he said he would not be speaking to the media while his coaching search is ongoing.
Hamilton said he has conducted a few interviews and felt the search process was going well.
He also noted that he hoped to name a new coach some time between early- to mid-December so that players and prospects would have a sense of who their future leader would be.
SAVING FACE: Most Tennessee Vols are trying to save face by avoiding becoming the first team in school history to pile up eight losses in a season.
For senior defensive tackle Walter Fisher, there’s more than that at stake when the Vols face Vanderbilt (6-4, 4-3) on Saturday.
“I do not want to go home after this season is over with knowing that I lost to Vanderbilt,” said the Nashville native. “I’m not trying to say that in a negative way or nothing. It’s just that I’ve got a lot of family members that love Tennessee, and for me to lose to Vanderbilt and then go home and walk around like nothing’s happening, that’s not going to fly with them.”
INJURY REPORT: Senior tailback Arian Foster is still questionable for Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt.
Foster sat out Tennessee’s 13-7 loss to Wyoming two weeks ago and used the Vols’ off week to rest a leg injury.
Coach Phillip Fulmer said he’s surprised that Foster’s leg hasn’t healed better and that the team is monitoring his recovery.
Junior tailback Montario Hardesty, who also sat out the Wyoming game with a leg injury, said he’s ready to play if Foster cannot.
“I’m going to prepare to get out there and play. So whether (my role) be starting or not, I’ll be ready come Saturday,” he said.
ORANGE SLICES: Three out of the last four Tennessee-Vanderbilt games have been decided by a touchdown or less. … Under coach Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee has won eight games against Vanderbilt by more than 20 points and six by seven points or fewer. Only once has the Vols lost, a 28-24 decision in Knoxville in 2005. … Senior defensive tackle Robert Ayers has 11.5 tackles for a loss this season, just 2.5 shy of Tennessee’s single-season record. His 27.5 career tackles for a loss rank second in school history.
SMOKEY SEZ: “As professionals it’s our job to do our best to put those guys in a position to win. Coaching is a long profession. Hopefully all of us will be doing it for a lot of years. You never want to look back and say, ’Boy, when things got tough, you took your foot off the gas.’ I’ve seen it happen before. I’m proud our staff hasn’t done that. We’ve worked hard and prepared hard,” offensive coordinator Dave Clawson said of Tennessee staying motivated to win.