When the Tennessee Vols hired Phillip Fulmer to replace John Currie as UT’s athletic director, it sent a message that the status quo wasn’t good enough anymore.
Pinching pennies, which Tennessee did a lot of under athletic director Dave Hart, was one of the primary reasons for the Vols’ downward spiral in athletics.
As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for.
Hiring Fulmer, who was responsible for some of the greatest seasons in UT football history, showed fans that Tennessee was serious about athletics (and not just football).
Of course, simply hiring Fulmer and sending a message to fans wouldn’t do any good if it wasn’t followed by action.
Fortunately for Vol nation, action is exactly what they got this past week.
When UCLA showed serious interest in Rick Barnes, Fulmer sprung into action to make sure the Vols didn’t lose the coach who completely turned around UT’s basketball program.
The Bruins went hard after Barnes, but Fulmer wasn’t about to let UCLA “buy” Tennessee’s basketball coach.
Fulmer: We weren’t going to let someone come in here and buy our coach without putting up a fight.
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) April 16, 2019
Fulmer’s been responsible for a lot of great quotes over the years, but that’s probably one of his best. It signifies the new direction of Tennessee athletics.
Gone are the “budget” days of hiring coaches like Butch Jones and assistants like Mike Canales and Kevin Beard. No longer will Tennessee allow a program to swoop in and steal a coach simply by offering a little more cash.
The Vols are committed to winning, in all sports, at all monetary costs.
Fulmer on why he put up such a fight to keep Barnes: “He is a quality man and meant as much to this community as anyone who’s come through here in some time.”
— David Ubben (@davidubben) April 16, 2019
Tennessee’s financial commitment to winning showed itself when Jeremy Pruitt was allowed to hire Jim Chaney and Derrick Ansley as coordinators this off-season.
And this past week, we saw that the financial commitment isn’t limited to just football.
It’s clear that Fulmer’s attitude has completely changed the trajectory of Tennessee’s athletic department.
Without Fulmer, the Vols probably don’t have Barnes and Pruitt right now. And there’s a decent chance Holly Warlick would still be the Lady Vols’ head coach.
Vol fans should probably thank their lucky stars that Fulmer is back where he belongs.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports