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Fullmer’s swan song

Posted by Richard on November 30, 2008

It was a pretty sorry season for the Vols. They finished 5-7, matching the most losses in 112 years of Tennessee football. Although they had one of the best defenses in Division I football (ranked 6th), their offense was virtually nonexistent (ranked something like 106th).

But today was fired coach Phil Fulmer's last game. And you'd be hard-pressed to find a coach whose players love him more. So today, the defense played up to their usual and the offense sucked it up and played one decent half. Tennessee 28, Kentucky 10.

Then they carried Fulmer off the field on their shoulders as if he'd just led them to a championship. It was pretty moving. 

In his 16 years at the helm, Fulmer won more than 75% of his games. Among Tennessee coaches, his 152 wins are second only to the legendary Gen. Robert R. Neyland (who racked up four national championships, back-to-back undefeated seasons, and an entire regular season without being scored upon). This was only Fulmer's second losing season.

But the standards are high in Knoxville. A 10-4 record isn't good enough if it includes losses to Florida, Alabama, and LSU. I wonder if that young whippersnapper, Lane Kiffin (the fired Raiders coach rumored to be Fulmer's replacement) knows what he's in for at Tennessee.

(One sports columnist's not very flattering look at Kiffin is here.)

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