Farewell To The Great Pumpkin?


According to sources close to blogger

Ghost of Neyland

at 3rd Saturday in Blogtober, Phil Fulmer is on his way out. We asked Ghost a few questions about the situation up on Rocky Top.

As for Chavis being a candidate, that’s pretty high comedy from my perspective, seeing as how Chavis is probably more universally hated in the Big Orange Nation than Fulmer. For the record, I think Chavis has done a pretty good job this season, and I think that if he is let go by the new coach, he will immediately be picked up to coach linebackers in the NFL (he’s an exceptional LB coach), but the thoughts of him becoming a head coach are laughable.

Why laughable?
First and foremost, he simply doesn’t have the public relations skills. Chief doesn’t like speaking to media members and never has. He also isn’t the prettiest face in the world, rarely does public speakings and would be a nightmare on the funding stuff and Big Orange Caravan, things like that. Personally, I think that if Fulmer goes – and all signs are pointing to that happening/already has happened – then Chavis will be on a one-way trip out of Knoxville. He’s done a lot for the university, but without superior talent, he leans too much on his Mustang package, and we become the Soft Zone Vols. Every single Vols fan hates that.

That said, the players would lay down in traffic for him, and I think that a lot of defensive recruits and possibly even a few defensive players would be angry if he was not retained.

What’s the mood among Tennessee fans? Has it reached the point where UT has no option but to fire Fulmer?
The mood is angry and somber, but we’ll come back to that. I think so on the “reached the point of no return” part of the question. I personally think that’s a bigger issue than the 3-5 record. I went to the football game the other night and in the high-roller seats, there were even a few crimson shirts. Alabama normally brings 25,000 fans to Neyland, but I’d say that was closer to 35 the other night. Plus, apathy speaks louder than anger.

While I have no concrete evidence to back it up, I’ve heard that the money isn’t being pumped into the program at the rate it has been in the past. Some people – important people – have been spoiled by winning, and are fed up. When you start seeing people leaving games very early or not showing up in the first place, you know that the “I don’t care” mentality has reached epic proportions. You have to figure in not only the money, that may or may not be coming in from donors. The money you can see with your own eyes is the concessions being lost by the fans leaving early or not showing up, the gate revenue for the 90,000-fan crowds when your stadium holds 107,000 and the student frustrations. Those guys probably aren’t buying the Vol-related
stuff as much.

The mood, at least my mood, is sad. This is the best recruiting class UT has had in a long time, and it’s probably not going to stay in-tact if Fulmer leaves, and as I’ve said, I believe Fulmer is leaving. But the reason why I’m sad is because of what Fulmer has meant to our program, and I wrote that here.

I think most of the rest of the fans are anxious, worried, excited, a combination of all of those. I think we really just want to know. We want to fast-forward to the start of next year and know who’s going to be coaching our team and what kind of recruits we were able to pull in the midst of all this turmoil.

It’s going to be a recovery period, in my opinion, and Vols fans need to get ready for that. Hell, I need to get ready for that. I’m the chest-puffing Vols fan. I think we’re the greatest thing in college football, and we’re just not anymore. And Fulmer is a big reason for that, unfortunately. I think the powers that be see the writing on the wall.

Fulmer seemed resigned to fate on his coaches show. Is there any way for him to save his job, or has he thrown in the towel?
There’s absolutely no chance Fulmer has thrown in the towel. He’s not wired that way. This man has cared about one football program his entire life, and I have no doubts that he will fight until his last day to stay on board at UT. The thing is, I just don’t think that’s an option anymore. As we said, we think it has already happened, and if that’s the case, he’s fighting a losing battle.

It’s possible that Hamilton is not making this public because he wants the option of “changing his mind,” which would just be a bizarre situation, and I think the crowds have spoken. I think the fans are pretty much boycotting the Fulmer regime, which is sad, in my opinion. If everybody loved the Vols like I love the Vols, they’d love them despite their flaws. It’s also possible that Fulmer is defiant enough to say “Well, Mike, we’re going to win these next four games, go 7-5 and make it really, really hard on you to publicly get rid of me. We’ll see if you do it after this.” The problem is, I don’t think we have the football team to go 7-5, and I think we lose this week. But if the team rallies around Fulmer and wins out, is there a chance he’s not fired? I guess people have the right to change their mind, but he’s out unless Hamilton goes back to him crawling on his knees, and I just don’t see that happening.

All of this is based on the information 3SIB received that people have been notified that he’s out, including Fulmer himself. Is there a chance that it’s a bad source? There’s always that chance. I know that some reporters erroneously reported numerous things during the Alabama and Michigan coaching searches. A person is only as good as his sources, and Mike Hamilton didn’t call Ghost and say, “Hey Ghost, Fulmer’s out.” So, as long as he didn’t do that, it’s possible that the information from our sources isn’t accurate. I wouldn’t bank on it.