By admin | November 28, 2008
By Jayson D. Henry
Only a short time of listening to Knoxville area sports talk radio or a quick check of sports message boards shows that at least some University of Tennessee football fans believe Phillip Fulmerâ€™s mid season firing was poorly timed.
I believe Fulmerâ€™s firing was well timed and I believe the events of the past few days prove that to be the case.
As was reported here a few weeks ago, Fulmerâ€™s fate had been decided very early in the 2008 season. Prior to the Volsâ€™ game against Georgia those who donate the big bucks, and thus apply pressure to the athletic department at UT, had decided they were tired of losing to rivals Florida, Alabama and Georgia. They had given the coach this season to turn that around and he failed miserably, not even offering serious competition in any of those games.
With that being decided, there was no point in putting off the inevitable.
Fulmerâ€™s firing was officially announced the week before the game against Wyoming. At that time, Tennesseeâ€™s remaining schedule included Wyoming, Vanderbilt and Kentucky. That is not exactly a murderers row of opponents.
Tennessee had just lost to South Carolina the weekend before the firing was announced. That loss pushed the Volsâ€™ record to 3-6. With three cupcake games remaining, Fulmer could have conceivably won out and made the teamâ€™s record 6-6 and thus, bowl eligible. Such a scenario could have prolonged the inevitable dismissal for as much a month beyond the regular season had those who wanted the announcement made after the season gotten their way.
As it turns out, of course, Wyoming beat Tennessee and made bowl eligibility impossible.
Also, as we have seen after this past weekâ€˜s victory over Vanderbilt, a few wins would have brought those who were wavering or who wanted to keep Fulmer around out of the woodwork. There would have been cries of, â€œHe has the team headed in the right directionâ€ and, â€œLook how much they improvedâ€ echoing across the airwaves of sports talk stations.
By making the announcement when he did, Athletic Director Mike Hamilton was able to go ahead with an aboveboard coaching search. And, as we have all heard by now, he will be able to have a coach in place immediately after the season ends when Lane Kiffin moves into the offices of the UT sports complex.
Kiffinâ€™s hiring will give the Vols at least a fair chance at landing recruits that might have been otherwise lost had the coaching search only just begun on December 1st.
So, considering what has happened and what could have happened, Mike Hamilton and the UT athletic department made a good decision by going ahead and firing Phillip Fulmer when they did.
Jayson D. Henry is a guest blogger for RacingWithRich.com. Reach Jayson either by commenting below or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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