Sunday, October 5, 2008

The state of football in Tennessee

I only watched a total of about 10 minutes of football yesterday and it was nice. I caught the end of the Vandy win and got to see backup quarterback Mackenzi Adams hug the wannabe pro wrestler/Nashville boy band looking guy in the stands who ended up being his high school football coach father. I didn't see it, but I'm willing to bet that Vandy looked well coached again. Bobby Johnson puts a disciplined product on the field that understands field position....looks like he now has a few more athletes to translate that into wins. It should also be mentioned that Vandy is impressive in the big 3 sports right now. Top 20 football program, a year in year out NCAA tourney basketball program and an elite baseball program.

Which brings me to the other team from Tennessee. All I caught was the 13-9 victorious score at home over a bad Northern Illinois team. I don't really like the man, but I respect what Phillip Fulmer has done in Knoxville. Sure they haven't won a league title or even played in a BCS game in a decade, but he has won A LOT at Tennessee. He's got 2 SEC titles and a bogus Clint Stoener fumble induced National Title. He is an excellent recruiter and has produced quite an impressive amount of talent at a school with a home state that is embarrassingly low on athletes compared to other states in Dixie.

That being said...he's done. I don't care about his raise and extension he signed less than a year ago. He is about to get run out of town. I think Fulmer has to win 3 of 4 against Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky and Vandy to save his job. I'm just not sure he will win more than one of those games. Now don't get me wrong, I'm still afraid of UT. I won't be shocked if they come to Athens with their backs against the wall and beat Georgia. That kind of stuff happens to me, so I'll never be surprised. All of a sudden they'll get the game of a career out of one of their bad quarterbacks. Taking away my bad luck, my hatred of their football team, and the fluke game of the year for every player on their team last season....Georgia should win the game.

So, who will replace Fulmer? Who do they hire? Can they make the right hire or will they get a Goff or Zook? Let's name some names. First off Vol fan, Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden (I know, grad assist in mid 80's) aren't going to Knoxville so get that thought out of your mind. Here are some of the names in no particular order:

Will Muschamp ... He'd get UT back into the fertile state of Georgia recruiting grounds. Defensive coach with a ton of enthusiasm. Former walk-on turned starter at UGA. Will be a head coach soon and whatever school hires him gets this shirt as part of the package.
Bobby Johnson ... If he keeps winning when he plays the better SEC teams they just might go after him. Would be a GREAT hire. I would be scared to death of him in Knoxville. I think he's the coach to "knock the lid off" of the Clemson program though. If he goes to his alma mater in the next year or two, Clemson will become a legit national power.
Paul Johnson ... Every year a big job opens, his name will be thrown around. It pains me to say it but he's gonna win and win big at tech. If they were as smart as they claim they would over pay him now to keep him. Don't know why he would leave tech for Tennessee. He can run roughshod through the ACC and will get great in state players to fit his scheme in Atlanta.
Brian Kelly ... I just don't know enough about him. I know he's known as an up and comer and a solid coach. I'd welcome this hire. Would be surprised if he went to UT and won big.
Gary Pinkel ... Well, he can coach. Mizzou is the real deal. Has been a Head Coach since age 38. 10 years at Toledo and 8 at Missouri. I'm sure if UT wanted him they could give it a run. Would probably have to throw a bunch of money at him to get him. They can though if they want.
Jim Grobe ... Like Bobby Johnson, Grobe would be a great fit and a great hire. Probably the one coach that would scare me the most if he ended up in Knoxville. What he's done at Wake is amazing. One of the best coaches in the South in my opinion.
Lane Kiffin ... I actually think this could be their guy. Would not be surprised to see them go after him. I would welcome this hire. They just might try to convince themselves that Kiffin could be their Urban Meyer (which is sad since CUM is a fraud). Would be SHOCKED if Kiffin could win big in the SEC East. Getting his dad is the most attractive part of hiring him.
Chris Hatcher ... I'm only throwing his name in here because I expect him to one day go to a rival of Georgia's and be a thorn in our side. Former Cavalier and VSU qb. Great coach and offensive mind. He has all kinds of in roads in the Peach State and his father was a longtime high school coach who is highly respected in the industry. Would be at top of list to replace PJ if he ever left tech.
David Cutcliffe ... All of Tennessee's offensive success under Fulmer has been with Cutcliffe on board. Was an assistant at UT for 18 years. Believe it or not, he's only 54. Was a student assistant under Bear Bryant while attending Alabama. He will have some backing in Knoxville, especially if he has a decent year at Duke. Just don't see them pulling the trigger on him personally. Very good offensive mind.
Randy Edsall ... HC at UConn. Feel free to make this hire UT. He would take the job in a heartbeat. Flirted with tech last season. He's a northeastern yankee that would suck at recruiting the South. Would be shocked if he won in the SEC East.
Bronco Mendenhall ... This guy seems to be the real deal. Has the intensity of a Brian VanGorder. His BYU team is legit. Probably one of the next great young college coaches. Has spent 17 out of 18 years coaching out west. Born in Utah, played in Oregon. Seems to be a better fit (recruiting wise) for a Pac-10 school.
Gene Chizik ... No chance at the UT job which is fine with me, but I'm mentioning him because I think he is a great young coach. He is a future star in the business. Problem is he took the Iowa State job a couple years ago. Will take a while, but will win at ISU. Made his name as DC at Auburn and Texas. Played LB at Florida in early 80's.
Skip Holtz ... Please, please hire him. Overrated.

Throw in the coaches of the month at Boise, Utah etc. etc. Peterson and the like will be mentioned and might get a shot, but at the end of the day I'd be surprised. Two surprising names to keep an eye on would be Tubberville (yeah I said it) and Petrino. If Fulmer wouldn't have won all those miracles last season and would have gotten canned, I'm fairly confident Petrino would have been a realistic hire. I know a very educated Vol I respect actually wanted him and felt like it would happen...then Fulmer saved his job.

At the end of the day I have to careful what you wish for. It's going to be tough to have more success than Fulmer. It almost takes a fair share of luck to hire the right guy. Without that perfect hire, Tennessee will be in trouble. So who will it be? Who would you want or not want coaching at UT?


JJ said...

If we manage to lose the game this weekend (or if it is even close), then it might be time to start making a list like this for ourselves. Not for the head coaching position, but for some other high profile spots on this staff.

I am tired of hearing about other teams playing their best games against UGA. We need to start beating the hell out of teams that just aren't very good like South Carolina and Tennessee this year. The game this weekend should not be close. Anything less is a disappointment.

Jennifer of JennySue Makeup said...

Hey Bop, Interesting coaching options for the big orange. With Vany winning last night and a game against Miss St next week. They will be 6-0 coming into Athens in 13 days. The dawgs need to take care of UT swiftly this weekend and avoid, dare I say it, the "look ahead factor" for the big Vandy game. Hmmm.

JJ said...

Falcons comment: I have never seen a team commit holding like Green Bay held today. Quite ridiculous. Great win for Atlanta. Dare I say this may be a playoff team in year 1 of the Smith/Mularkey/Van Gorder era.

Bop said...

I'll be really pleased if falcons can end up 8-8. That coaching staff is impressive. Future is bright.

Hey jennysue, my wife loves your site.

VOLSFAN72 said...

From your neighborhood Vols fan, I would have to agree completely with you and the state of our program. Not sure if anyone saw the Philip Fulmer Show, or why you saw it, if you did might be a better question, but at one point he made the statement that late in the game "we were trying to be safe". That just about sums it up right there! He has lost whatever confidence he has in his players and staff. He is out of touch with this league and we have been on a steady decline for the past couple of years. It is time for a change and saying he has to win three of four against UGA, Bama, Vandy and Kentucky is asking a lot and do not forget we are still yet to play Spurrier and company in Columbia.
As far as a replacement, I am hoping that Kiffen is still available, although I think he is headed for Washington. My second choice would be either Muschamp or Mendenhall. I want someone young with a little fire to attempt to get this ship back on course. It may take time, but fire and enthusiasm has a way of spilling over to your players.
Enough from here...good luck to you all this week. I do not think we have a shot at all, but I have said that before and been pleasantly surprised. I just do not think we can score enough points to keep up with you guys. Plus you have a little fire after last week and it has festered all week.

Anonymous said...

I was not impressed with the manner in which Coach Phillip Fulmer kicked Johnny Majors in the backside and stole the job from him. The program certainly was one of the Top Elite Football Programs in the nation and had been forever.

In short order, looking back on it now, Fulmer has run the program into the ground.

Having Rodney Garner as his Tight Ends Coach, sums it up.

Now, we have the FULMER CUP, and every single year for 8 now this season 8 years in a row ranked worse than UGA even in the Final AP Polls.

They have gone down hill.

vols football team barely scraped past the Tee Martin debacle when as you recall Tee Martin lied for 4 years that he was NOT PAID $7,000 within 2 weeks of winning the national championship at a Quick Trip from wired funds from the faithful.

Speaking in the 3rd person, 4 years later Tee Martin finally admitted it. That was a different Tee Martin back then; and, I would never do that now - he came clean.

No penalty for the vols. Statute of limitations.

vols' APR is another area Fulmer barely scraped by with this last season. If we did an investigation of how he barely got by losing scholarships to the APR, we would find the same as we find with Tee Martin's payments as a player for Fulmer.

Other than the 1 fan above, there are not any vols' fans who will admit all this to you that Fulmer is clearly going to be run out of town on a rail, but I can assure you that his entire running game for the vols is based upon nothing but the dredge of the world running backs, all of whom are or should be in PRISON.

You mean they beat Northern Illinois 13-9 ?


I didn't think they would win the game.

This is the state of their vols' football program, and their head coach who finally showed up to Alabama to face all the criminal charges against him personally, which happened last week. Why haven't we heard what happened in that case, he has tried to duck ?

Anonymous said...

"... who finally showed up to Alabama to face all the criminal charges against him personally"

What a stupid statement. Sounds like a Tide fan still holding a grudge.

Fulmer will not be "run out of town". He is very well liked, as a person, by most Vols fans and is well liked by admin as well as the power brokers. An exit strategy will be devised that keeps Fulmer on staff in an admin function.

Anonymous said...

As a Vol fan, the worst part of Fulmer being fired would be losing Chavis.Chief is solid and consistent and has kept the Vols in many games. Oh well, part of the business.

Anonymous said...

The worst part of Fulmer leaving would be Chavis going as well,are you stupid?Have you not seen other teams carve up this defense?A Northern Illinois team with their 3RD STRING QB almost beat UT.You are either blind or dumb,I'm not sure which.

Mike said...

Imo the intensity, anonymous sh!t talk and opposing views in these last few comments just about sum up how the Vol nation feels about the state of TN football. Volsfan72 may the only one who's not gonna stick his head in the oven. But I guess I'd be mad too...

@ 10:14-You sound like a Vol fan in serious denial. This is how the majority of the rest of the conference views your program. Sorry. Personally I don't see Fulmer swallowing a demotion to an administrative role @ UT but I could be mistaken.

I am happy to say that I think I was mistaken about my Falcons this year...

Anonymous said...

Actually "a Zook" looks like a pretty good deal from where this Vol fan is sitting right now. He's doing a heck of a job at Illinois and any UT coach is going to need to be a tremendous recruiter.

Anonymous said...

As a UT alum and Geogia resident since '89, I know UGA will kick our backside this weekend. It will take a miracle for us to win. However, the writing is on the Fulmer has served his time well and it is time for change. The steady decline this decade of our program has to end soon. Your list of predecesors is not far off the mark. I like Chris Peterson from Boise St. What he has done in 3 years is exceptional. Even more impressive is their win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl two years ago. The overtime win was one of confidence and agressiveness. I have tired of the conservative product UT has put on the field as of late. To win in the SEC, you have to be the aggressor.

Anonymous said...

do not fear the Vols this year. I have never seen an uglier product, and i have been following them since the bill battle days. they are undisciplined and confused. enjoy yourselves this weekend. it will be feast.

i agree that we need to be careful what we wish for, and this has been why i have defended fulmer over the years. look what happened to alabama after they ran stallings out of town. i have loved the man for bringing us the title in 98 (stoerner layed the ball on the turf, like it or not). i hope he gets a street named after him in knoxville. i hope he stays in tennessee and never has to buy another beer for the rest of his life. but i also hope he goes after this season.

so fear not. you will win this saturday, and we will end up firing our coach. this will lead to at least a decade of mediocity as we go through 2 or 3 more coaches until we get it right (you guys are familiar with this). i will check back in at that time and see if this game is worth watching. hopefully at that time eric berry will be picking off passes for the falcons.

Bop said...

Been away from internet or I would have responded sooner....

Volsfan72, I was hoping to get your opinion since I respect it more than anyone's in Big Orange country. The thing I think fits with Kiffin and UT is the offense (and my guess that he can recruit nationally). What Kiffin was involved in at USC and the O he's running at Oakland is a good match. I still can't believe CPF went with a spread type offense. Tennessee lines it up and runs it down your throat. Then throws over the top to the track star WR. Thats what they do. Thats what Kiffin would bring back too. Not this BS Clawfense crap. Desparate move from Phillip.

I'm hoping Bronco wants to stay out West. Don't want him near any of Georgia's rivals.

Who knows...Georgia just might save Fulmer's job again. Georgia isn't half the team that started #1 with all the injuries. Plus Fulmer will remember what got him here and pound the rock a la Knoxville last season. (I've earned the right to be negative in this rivalry. I expect bad things). Eric Berry might just have 3 picks. He's the best player in the SEC.

Bop said...

"hopefully at that time Eric Berry will be picking off passes for the Falcons." Wishful thinking. He's a top 7 pick (the next Champ Bailey) and I'm starting to think for the first time in my life from the top all the way down the Falcons have the right people in place. What I'm trying to say is that Berry will be off the board by the time the coons pick after next season.

BayouDawg said...

unrelated, however Auburn's offensive mastermind just got fired -

That lasted....don't know how many times you have to say it. YOU CANT RUN THE SPREAD IN THE SEC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

VOLSFAN72 said...

Appreciate the comment Bop. I know you know how much I love ya'lls site. I have been pondering the Kiffin thought throughout the week and the more I think about the situation we are in the more I lean toward Will Muschamp. I would not be disappointed with any of the three I mentioned, but I love the fact that Muschamp has not only succeeded everywhere but he has ties all over the south.
Of course if we somehow compete this weekend or pull out some sort of miracle, all the discussion about Phat Phil will be for naught, because a win this week and he is here for at least another year. Of course I will without a doubt root for the Vols and would not for one second wish them to lose a game so we could find a new coach. However, if we are going to get beat, I hope you stick it to us in a bad way. Get in touch with Coach Richt and tell him he needs to score as much as possible and keep doing it if it gets ugly...of course, I do prefer option 1!!!