Fulmer defends himself at media day, says firing rumors are 'misinformation'

Updated: October 28, 2008, 8:48 PM ET
Associated Press

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Phillip Fulmer spent a lot of time Tuesday defending himself and dismissing speculation about his job security.

Fulmer said at Tennessee's weekly media day that most of the talk about his job being on the line has been "misinformation," though he said he doesn't bother paying attention to much of it.

"In the short term here, it's not where anybody wants it to be, starting with me," he said. "I'm just going to go to work and do the very, very best that I can for the Tennessee people, the Tennessee family, the administration and whoever."

The Volunteers (3-5, 1-4 Southeastern Conference) haven't beaten a ranked opponent this season and took an early exit from the race for the SEC East title. Every remaining game, starting with South Carolina on Saturday night, is a must-win if the Vols want a shot at playing in a bowl.

"We're in the age of instant gratification and what have you done lately. I understand that," Fulmer said. "Hopefully we can give everyone good encouragement about winning and what we're going to do in the future, with how we play."

Fulmer said there were some things he would have done differently had he been able to foresee the results, but he refused to say specifically what those things were.

The 17-year veteran defended his career and did so without any mention of his 1998 national championship or two SEC championships. He said he's run a clean program, tried to develop academic and life skills within his players and won 75 percent of his games as a coach.

He said he hopes that by rounding up a strong recruiting class and overcoming problems with changing offensive systems and quarterbacks, he's giving fans something to look forward to.

Tennessee has a 2009 recruiting class currently ranked No. 7 nationally by Rivals.com and No. 10 by Scout.com.

"If we can hang on to all those guys and add to it a little bit, I think there's a lot of reason for optimism," he said.

Defensive coordinator John Chavis is a former Tennessee player, like Fulmer. They've been coaching at Tennessee together since 1989, when Fulmer was offensive coordinator.

"Certainly, I look at a man that has won 150 ballgames and done some things at this university that haven't been done before and done it with class," Chavis said.

"I'm not going to deal with the speculation. Whatever happens, happens. I'm getting paid well to do what I'm doing, and I'm going to go out and bust my rear end to do everything I can to help this team and help coach Fulmer be successful," he said.

Fulmer said he believes he has earnest support from the Tennessee athletic administration and others within the program.

He also said most fans probably don't understand just how much he has invested in Tennessee after 35 years with the program as a player, assistant and head coach.

"They probably can't," he said. "In the big picture of things, should they? This program is much bigger than me or anybody. Nobody wants the best for it more than I do."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press