Randy Smith: Fulmer Now In His Element

Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Since being turned out to pasture in 2008 by the school he loved so much, Phillip Fulmer has not been in many positions that required him to make his own decisions. Of course he has had several consulting opportunities but he hasn't been making the final call himself......until now. On Friday Tennessee administration ended the most disastrous week in school history by turning to former national championship winning Coach Phillip Fulmer to stop the bleeding, right the ship and do anything he could to restore the Vols' reputation.

Simply by being hired to replace John Currie  as Tennessee's athletic director stabilized things in Knoxville. It brought the Big Orange Nation together and gave them hope when everything appeared so hopeless before. Now after weeks and weeks of agonizing frustrations of trying to hire a new football coach, Fulmer hopes to have one hired by the end of the day, today; just four days after taking the job.

Fulmer may turn to former LSU coach Les Miles, or he may choose former Clemson offensive coordinator and current SMU head coach Chad Morris. He could also hire Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele or Georgia's defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. Regardless of who Fulmer hires it will be a good choice. And unlike Currie who leaked more information than a rusty faucet Fulmer will handle things much as he has his entire life; close to the vest. In other words, Fulmer would rather win football games than just winning the press conference.

Everything that has happened in Knoxville the past few days was a slap in the face to the Haslam family. The same Haslam family who approved Fulmer's firing in 2008, the same family that hired John Currie, the same family that tried to hire Greg Schiano as football coach a little more than a week ago, the same family that has bought tons of power at the University of Tennessee with millions of dollars, the same family that warned state legislators to mind their own business when it came to hiring a football coach at Tennessee. The real coup at Tennessee was not the firing of Currie and the hiring of Fulmer, it was the taking away of the power of the Haslam family and giving it back to the athletic department, now headed by Phillip Fulmer. 

Knowing Coach Fulmer as I do, I am very comfortable with any decision the man makes. It may take some time to restore the glory of Tennessee football but he will get it done. To borrow one of his favorite expressions, "We're gonna work like heck" to get it done. 
* * *

Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer.  His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for 30 years. He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga television for more than a quarter-century. In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith. They have five grandchildren, Coleman, Boone, Mattingly, DellaMae, and CoraLee.

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