Phillip Fulmer’s recent declaration that he had again become a recruiter for Tennessee football spawned two reactions.
First, some thought this was the first sign that Tennessee’s newest athletic director was looking over UT coach Jeremy Pruitt’s shoulder. After all, it would makes sense. Fulmer was one of the best recruiters in the modern era of college football. Pruitt, who is still assembling his staff, could use the extra hands and has never been a head coach before. There’s opportunity for Fulmer to become a pseudo coach and we all know he felt his coaching tenure was cut too short when he was fired following the 2008 season. Is this meddling already?
On the other hand, many just think Fulmer is trying to help. The clock is ticking on the Vols’ 2018 class and it’s moving faster than ever thanks to the first-year early signing period, which is Dec. 20. Pruitt’s staff can’t possibly see every prospect in such a short period of time. So Fulmer is willing to hit the road.
“I passed my test, so I’m ready to hit the road here for a little bit,” Fulmer said during a radio show produced by Volquest.com. “I’ve made a lot of phone calls.”
So is that meddling? I don’t think so. I think it’s helping. I think it has truly pained Fulmer to see the Vols struggle over the past decade. Now, he’s involved and he believes he’s made what I believe will be a solid hire.
“I want (Tennessee) to be great again. It’s energized me,” Fulmer said. “I’ve enjoyed lots of things about not coaching, but you like to compete.”
Fulmer said UT has probably “tripled” the number of prospects they were talking to. That certainly makes it sound like he’s plenty invested. And I think that’s great for the program.
Those that have followed my work, which I greatly appreciate, know that I have been critical of Fulmer and other UT powerbrokers when I believe the time has been right. However, this is not one of those times. This is a time for UT’s football program to believe in itself, grow and not be paranoid.
I believe Fulmer wants to help and Pruitt needs it. I have zero indication that Fulmer ever wants to coach again. By all indications, he loves spending time with his family. Think of all the years he missed while giving his life to Tennessee football. Moreover, if Fulmer wanted to coach again, he could have just hired himself instead of Pruitt.
Certainly, Fulmer has made some of the most impressive power plays in UT athletics history. However, this isn’t one of them. Fulmer’s presence at UT, even on the recruiting trail, is a beacon of light for a program that has been shrouded in darkness for far too long.