Gee…finding a replacement for Fulmer is going to be harder than what anyone expected
Posted by Thomas the Terrible on November 7, 2008
As coaches line up to say no to Tennessee, I’m sure some fans are wondering why considering a job has not been offered to them. That’s really a simple question to answer. Whether you like it or not, in 10 years Fulmer will be revered as a legend. He’s already an institution and no body wants to be the guy to follow a legend. Just ask Ron Zook about that.
Steve God Spurrier, Butch Davis & David Cutcliff have all publicly said that they are not interested in the Tennessee coaching position.
It’s even gone so far that Charlie Sexton, the agent for both Fulmer and Butch Davis, has publicly said that Davis was staying put. Of course anything can happen and money talks.
I’m sure most of you know that Lane Kiffin was in Knoxville recently and was spotted playing golf with a prominent Tennessee booster. I hate to remind people of this but it means nothing.
ESPN’s PTI stated that John Gruden is rumored to be in Knoxville this weekend. Again even it that was true it means nothing.
Mike Hamilton the Tennessee AD stated yesterday that:
“I think it’s more important that you hire the right person than you put a timeframe on it,” Hamilton said on Thursday. “I do think that we’ll efficiently and expeditiously tie it up as quickly as possible but I’m more concerned about the who than how long.”
He is right of course but it’s also funny how on Monday he stated a new coach would be hired within a matter of weeks.
The bottom line is honestly the Tennessee job isn’t as appealing as some fans seem to think. It may not even be as appealing as some of the other jobs that are open this year.
How attractive is it to a candidate knowing Tennessee just fired a coach who has been there for 17 years and only had 2 bad seasons? The candidates can’t help but wonder what if they go 6-6 or 7-5; will they be the next one to go?
Whoever takes the Washington job will be held as great coach for going 6-6.
Though Clemson might have a stadium the size of ours they have a great fan base and a softer schedule that should propel them into a BCS bowl. Tennessee, on the other hand, plays in the SEC East which is the gold standard of college football.
Look at the requirements someone would need to have in order to be the new coach:
- Leadership skills beyond norm: Must be battle tested to be a leader in the toughest conference in the country.
- Recruiter: Enough of talking about not having the richest recruiting grounds. Must have energy and the ability to sell UT in any environment. UT used to recruit well even in GA & FL. If you have a winning program the recruits will come to UT
- Character: This is without question the biggest part of replacing Fulmer that will be tough. We do not need the NCAA breathing down our necks, we do not want to continue to read about our players in the crime section more often than we do in the sports section. None of the win at all cost. We want a coach who leads by example and will not accept the tough discipline necessary to win in this conference.
- Thinks outside the box: I know this is used too much these days but it is true more so today in college football than ever. The teams that are winning have expanded their play calling to become less predictable and keep there opposition guessing.
- Passion: Must be passionate not only about winning but winning at UT. Needs to understand the tradition and how passionate one of if not the largest fan base is concerning their football team.
- Thick Skinned: Face it if you coach here and you don’t come out the gate running you will be judged harshly. Beating GA, UF, UA, LSU, & AU is not an option. It is necessary in order to win the SEC and that is the low bar for this job. The high bar is of course a National Championship. A goal we believe we should at least be considered to have a chance at every year.
With other coaching opportunities out there like Syracuse, Washington & whatever else might come open, you can see why finding a coach is a lot harder than you think.
Soon UT fans will forget the last few disappointing seasons and remember Fulmer in the big picture. The guy spent his life at UT and bled Orange. That is rare in these days of coaching carousels and contract buyouts.
As Tennessee fans we expect a lot from the coach and quite possibly we expect too much. Potential coaching candidates understand all this. So stop the talk about bringing in Butch Davis or Bob Stoops.
What are reasonable expectations for the Tennessee program, anyway?
Who knows maybe we will land Kiffin, Muschamp or even Gruden, but realize this, it’s possible they aren’t the right candidate to begin with.
Also realize that history shows us that whenever a coach like Fulmer is replaced it takes years to find the right replacement. Look how long Alabama had to wait before Stallings got there and look how long they waited after Stallings left before they found Saban.
Nebraska, Texas A&M are still searching for that coach. Oklahoma replaced Switzer with Gary Gibbs and Georgia replaced Dooley with Ray Goff.
Whatever the case may be one thing is certain, I wouldn’t want to be in the shoes a Mike Hamilton right now.