Tennessee Vols athletic director Phillip Fulmer chose the right time to address some wild rumors.
Earlier this week, ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg reported that Fulmer, who coached Tennessee from 1992-2008, wouldn’t hesitate to coach again (in the event that Jeremy Pruitt was fired).
On Wednesday, Fulmer refuted Rittenberg’s report, telling ESPN’s Chris Low that the coaching chapter of his life is closed, adding “I’m way past that point in my life…..I have no interest in coaching again and would rather spend that time being a grandfather”.
Fulmer also made it a point to mention his belief in Pruitt as Tennessee’s head coach, saying “we’ve got a good football coach, and I believe in Jeremy Pruitt totally”.
Had a chance to speak with @phillipfulmer before his appearance on @VolNetwork_IMG‘s Vol Calls. He’s very aware of the talk out there about his returning as coach and was adamant that he’s done coaching. He said he has “total belief” in @CoachJPruitt. https://t.co/5Dw19cQakV
— Chris Low (@ClowESPN) October 3, 2019
The decision by Fulmer to address the rumors was a smart choice.
It was also a choice that was a departure from how rumors have typically been handled on Rocky Top in recent years.
During the tenure of previous athletic directors (specifically Dave Hart and John Currie), rumors would swirl whenever there was uncertainty surrounding a football coach. And the athletic directors would remain (mostly) quiet. Instead of directly addressing wild rumors, they’d let them simmer with a fan base that was hungry for insight into what the athletic department was thinking/doing.
Often times, it almost seemed like Tennessee’s athletic department pretended like the rumors didn’t exist. It was an archaic and inadequate way of handling business.
(I mean, imagine how many rounds of “Grumors” could’ve been avoided with a simple comment to a reporter.)
Fulmer, however, has no time for “athletic director speak”. He was quite candid with ESPN’s Chris Low (and on Vol Calls). Fulmer didn’t pretend like the rumors didn’t exist — he addressed them head on. And that’s something that I think Vol fans deserve. They’ve been jerked around enough over the last 10 years with rumors of secret meetings, hidden tail numbers on planes and mysterious lunch meetings in California. I think the fans deserve some transparency at this point.
I don’t know what the future hold for Fulmer and Pruitt. But I do know that both men are going to do their best to make sure Tennessee is relevant again.
And they’re both going to be incredibly candid in the process.
Refreshing in a way, isn’t it?
Featured image via Caitie McMekin-USA TODAY Sports