Randy Smith: The Totally Dysfunctional Vol Football Program, And How About Will Healy?
Tuesday, January 19, 2021 - by Randy Smith
Once again, for the fifth time in 13 years, the University of Tennessee is searching for a head football coach. Jeremy Pruitt was fired on Monday after only three years due to NCAA recruiting violations. In addition, nine members of his staff were let go as well and Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer announced he was retiring. What a day!
As if things didn't get as bad as they could in December of 2017 when the Vols' fans mutinied when Greg Schiano was rumored to be hired to replace the fired Butch Jones. Not only did that deal not work out but then AD John Currie was fired and replaced by Coach Fulmer. Fulmer then hired Pruitt and the rest as they say is history. How could it reach this level? Just 22 years ago, the Vols were undefeated national champions and they were perennial national and SEC contenders each and every year.
It appears that bad Karma has latched onto the Big Orange and has refused to let go.
I was never impressed with Jeremy Pruitt but I was hoping that Coach Fulmer saw something I didn't see. When a head football coach in the Southeastern Conference uses the worst grammar I have ever heard from an educated person, it's hard to believe he can win at any level. There are some football coaches who are great as assistant coaches but could never be successful as a head coach. Former UTC Coach Rodney Allison was one. Former Tennessee defensive coordinator John Chavis was another and I believe Jeremy Pruitt fits into that category.
As for Coach Fulmer, I never really expected him to be around as athletic director that long anyway. He filled a huge void when he was hired in 2017 and stabilized an unhealthy situation. No one has ever loved the University of Tennessee more than Phillip Fulmer and Vol fans should be appreciative for his efforts, even though football is still basically a laughing stock among college football programs. As far as the other sports are concerned, they all appear to be in good shape. It's time for Coach Fulmer to kick back, relax and enjoy his grandchildren. He is 70 years old and has plenty of money so now it's time for him to enjoy his retirement.
Everyone has their own choice as to who will become the Vols' next football coach. Some border on lines of insanity but first Tennessee must hire an athletic director so that person can hire a football coach. My choice is former UTC athletic director David Blackburn who started at Tennessee and was passed over when the Vols hired John Currie. Whoever is hired needs to have a Tennessee background because when Dave Hart was the guy in charge, he got rid of just about everyone with a Tennessee pedigree. There was no one around the entire athletic department who had a clue about Tennessee's history and culture. Fulmer restored some of that and I believe that is ultimately very important.
As for the next head football coach, why not take a good look at Chattanooga's Will Healy. He's not from a Power Five conference but he has everything you could look for in a successful head coach. It's time for Tennessee to start acting like the historic top 10 college football program that it is and hire a big time football coach; one who will return the Vols to a position of relevance in college football. One who will finally appease the dysfunctional Tennessee fan base.
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Randy Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org