Fulmer agrees to step aside as Vols coach at end of season
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Saying he would accept the university's decision, an emotional Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer confirmed Monday at a tension-filled news conference at Neyland Stadium that he would not return next season.Fulmer, tearing up several different times and with many of his players openly glaring at Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton, made it clear that it wasn't his decision to step aside after 17 seasons at his alma mater. "Many fans have been supportive. Some have been angry. All of us are disappointed," said Fulmer, who brought Tennessee its first national championship in 47 years in 1998. "I'm proud that the accomplishments over the last 17 years have been part of such high expectations. "Our Tennessee family is united in its goals, but divided in the right path to get there. I love Tennessee too much to let her stay divided." Fulmer will coach the Vols (3-6, 1-5 SEC) throughout the remainder of this season. They've lost three of their last four games and are in danger of losing seven games in a season for only the second time in school history. If so, it would also be their second losing season in the past four years. Tennessee finished 5-6 in 2005. Hamilton and Fulmer met on Sunday, and Fulmer was told then that he wouldn't be back for his 18th season. There was tenuous discussion between the two about how Fulmer's exit would be couched. Fulmer told his family Sunday night and began telling staff members on Monday. During his comments at the news conference, Fulmer went through a long list of people he wanted to thank, including former athletic director Doug Dickey and former president Joe Johnson. But he never mentioned Hamilton or current president John Petersen.
Phil Fulmer at a glance
• Is 150-51 (.746) in 17 seasons as Vols head coach (counting four total games in 1992, three as interim).
• Among active FBS coaches, has the fifth-most consecutive seasons at one school. Among active coaches with at least 10 years experience, he has the third-highest winning percentage (.746).
• Against Vols' three biggest rivals (Florida, Georgia and Alabama), the Vols went 0-3 this season and were outscored 85-29. In the last two years, Vols are 1-5 against those teams. In those five losses, UT has been outscored 185-66 (average score: 37-13).
• A Winchester, Tenn., native, Fulmer has not only been head coach in 201 games at Tennessee, but all together -- counting his 35 seasons as a player, student assistant, offensive line coach, offensive coordinator and head coach -- Fulmer has been on the sideline for 422 UT games dating to 1968.
|SEC win pct.||.860||.654|
|SEC champ. game||2-0||0-3|
|vs. Top 25||23-9||20-28|
MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL HEADLINES
- Florida State, Alabama remain 1-2 in AP poll
- ACC rules Winston's ref bump 'insignificant'
- FSU's Fisher: Doesn't matter how team wins
- Sooners' Perine (427 yards) bests Gordon
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
FULMER LEAVES TENNESSEE
Tennessee's Phil Fulmer stepped down as the Volunteers' head coach at the conclusion of the season. As a player, assistant and head coach, Fulmer was on the sideline for 422 Tennessee games dating back to 1968. Story ... Watch
More on Fulmer• Low: Fulmer's tale of two halves
• Maisel: Tough acts to follow
• Watch: Low's analysis
• Vote: Your reaction
• SEC blogger Low: No surprise
• Podcast: Maisel on the Volunteers' shake-up