The Tennessee Vols have been looking for a new Athletic Director for over seven months, ever since Dave Hart announced his retirement.
Over the weekend a new candidate emerged as a contender for the job. It’s a recognizable name, as well.
Fulmer Emerges as Vols AD Candidate
.@ClowESPN reports Phillip Fulmer has emerged as a prime candidate to be the Vols next Athletic Director.
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) January 16, 2017
While Fulmer is a very well respected figure inside the Tennessee athletic department, this seems like somewhat of a reach.
This AD search has been long and confusing for Vol faithful. Tennessee needs a proven leader for its Athletics Department, and there is a high importance on hiring a person who has a deep connection to the University.
Early on, expectations were that David Blackburn would be the easy choice. The standing Athletic Director at Tennessee-Chattanooga worked for over two decades inside Tennessee Athletics. Blackburn worked under Johnny Majors, Phillip Fulmer and most notably, kept Lane Kiffin on the rails (so to speak).
Blackburn has taken Chattanooga’s athletics to new heights in the short time he’s held the position. In fact, Chattanooga’s Director’s Cup All-Sp0rts ranking is higher than Tennessee’s.
Proud of Chattanooga’s current athletic director’s cup all sports rank of 107! Smaller budgets are overcome w/grt mindsets! #GoMocs
— David Blackburn (@DBlackburnUTC) January 13, 2017
Tennessee ranks 113th.
Fulmer would be a positive for Butch Jones
Butch Jones is the one with the greatest need for an Athletics Director. Tennessee’s head football coach is looking to hire a new offensive coordinator after Mike DeBord left for Indiana, and is in need of a total budget for his coaching staff.
However, coaching staff budget isn’t the biggest reason Jones needs a strong AD presence. It is essential for Jones to have person to turn to for guidance. Hart isn’t a “football guy” and Fulmer would fill that hole for Jones. Fulmer knows exactly what it feels like to be a head coach at a high-pressure SEC school. Jones would benefit from having Coach Fulmer right down the hallway. Fulmer would also most likely be very patient with Jones as he continues to rebuild Tennessee’s football program.
The negative is, Fulmer has zero experience as an athletic director. Tennessee is in a position now where it can’t afford another miss on a coaching hire in football, men’s and women’s basketball, or any other sport.
How would Fulmer be qualified for making hires in other sports, besides football? I know he knows coaching and coaches, but today’s athletes are much different than 2008’s athletes, when Fulmer last coached the Vols.
He’s the definition of a “Tennessee man” but, hiring Fulmer would be a gigantic risk. Fulmer would need an experienced staff placed around him for financial guidance.