Fulmer stepping down; the sad part of change

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Agree or disagree with the move, I think all Tennessee fans can come together on one fact.  Today is a sad day.  Watching Coach Fulmer hold back tears as he talked about family, and relationships, and making young men better, it was made clear that his “stepping down” was not his idea.

Coach Fulmer:

“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.

That is why I accept the university’s decision that this will be my last season as Tennessee’s head football coach.”

He made that clear when he got up after saying his piece and answering 4 questions.  The players in attendance followed suit prior to Ramon Foster (senior OL) and Eric Berry (sophomore DB) taking the stage.

When asked about his future, and the administrative job offered to him this afternoon by Hamilton, he simply responded with, “I’m a coach.”

Foster commented on his thoughts, and applied them to the rest of his teammates, saying that his “body dropped” when he heard the news and called it “not a stand up move by the university.”

As I wrote after the Florida game, I do think it was time for the move.  I hate, however, that it is going down in a less than carried-out-on-shoulders way for a man that has given most of his life for the University of Tennessee, and brought a National Championship (one of only 2) to the Hill.  The way he really and truly deserves, regardless of which corner you were in last week.

To hear the players say “it isn’t about wins and losses,” while makes the emotional point, doesn’t exactly paint the most accurate picture.  Those same guys came to Tennessee, yes for a family atmosphere and to play for classy coaches, but also–perhaps more importantly–to compete for and win championships.  That hasn’t happened lately.  And the program wasn’t heading there any time soon.

We’ll get into potential replacements, speculation on Fulmer’s professional future, and debates about what the Program needs later.  Today is for thanks.

Today is indeed a sad day for Coach Fulmer, and for those of us who grew up with him as the only coach of our beloved Volunteers that we’ve ever really known.

When asked what it was like to walk in today and see current and former players here for support, he smiled, held back tears and said, “It’s what we’re about.” 

To a room full of applause. 

Thank you, Coach.  I’ll be there on Philip Fulmer day.  You can count on that.

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