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Phillip Fulmer

Title Head coach
Sport Football
Born September 1, 1950 (1950-09-01) (age 59)
Place of birth Winchester, Tennessee
Career highlights
Overall 152–52
Bowls 8–7
Coaching stats
College Football DataWarehouse
1 National Championship (1998)
2 SEC Championships (1997-1998)
6 SEC Eastern Division Titles (1997-1998, 2001, 2003-2004, 2007)
Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year (1998)
Home Depot Coach of the Year Award (1998)
AFCA Coach of the Year (1998)
SEC Coach of the Year (1998)
Playing career
1968–1971 Tennessee
Position Guard
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Wichita State (OL/LB)
Vanderbilt (AC)
Tennessee (AC)
Tennessee (OC)

Phillip Fulmer (born September 1, 1950) is the former head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers football team, who compiled a 152-52 record from 1992-2008 as head coach, but was fired following a 5-7 season in 2008. He is best known for coaching the Volunteers in the first ever BCS National Championship Game in 1998, defeating Florida State University. Fulmer was the school's 20th head football coach.


Before coaching

Fulmer was born in Winchester, Tennessee where he attended Franklin County High School. Fulmer enrolled at the University of Tennessee as a student in 1968. He promptly joined the football team as an offensive guard. Fulmer helped Tennessee to a 30–5 record from 1969–71, where he played for coaches Doug Dickey (who returned to UT as athletic director and hired Fulmer as the Volunteers' coach) and Bill Battle. The Volunteers captured the SEC championship with a 9–2 record in 1969, went 11–1 and won the Sugar Bowl in 1970, and finished as Liberty Bowl champions with a 10–2 record in 1971.

Early coaching career

Fulmer served as linebacker coach and defensive coordinator for the Vols freshman team in 1973 before moving to Wichita State University the following season. He spent five years at Wichita State, where he coached the offensive line in 1974 and 1977-78 and served as linebacker coach in 1975-76. He followed those years with a one-season stint at Vanderbilt, serving as an aide to Commodores head coach George MacIntyre.

University of Tennessee

Fulmer served 13 years as a Vols assistant coach beginning in 1980 before becoming the 20th head football coach at Tennessee, after a controversial decision to replace then-coach Johnny Majors, who had been ill.[1]

In Fulmer's early career Tennessee won two Southeastern Conference championships, in 1997 and 1998, and a national championship in 1998. The Vols made three other SEC Championship game appearances in 2001, 2004, and 2007 losing all three. Despite the decline over the past several years, Fulmer's winning percentage is still among the top in the country for coaches who have over ten years' experience.

Fulmer helped return Tennessee to national prominence from 1993 to 1998, when he won the first ever BCS National Championship Game. The Vols appeared in three consecutive Bowl Alliance or BCS games from 1997 to 1999. They posted 10 or more wins from 1995 to 1998, with Peyton Manning at quarterback for from 1995 through 1997. The senior class of the 1998 team compiled a record of 45–5, losing only to Florida (3 times), Nebraska and Memphis.

Fulmer had a reputation as an ace recruiter, leading many analysts to praise him as one of the game's top head coach recruiters.[2] Until 2008, Fulmer had only had one losing season at Tennessee: in 2005, Fulmer's pre-season third-ranked Volunteers went 5-6, losing to in-state SEC rival Vanderbilt for the first time in his 14-year tenure. The losing season also kept Tennessee out of a bowl game for the first time since 1988, a streak of 16 years which was the third-longest in the NCAA. Fulmer never lost to the University of Kentucky, winning 17 straight games.[3] After a slow start in 2008, Fulmer came under increased scrutiny from Tennessee fans,[4][5] leaving skepticism about how long he would remain Tennessee's head football coach despite having just received a contract extension after the 2007 season.[6][7] UT athletic director Mike Hamilton finally notified Fulmer of his dismissal on November 2, 2008. The next day, he agreed to step down as head coach following the season. That week the Vols suffered an embarrassing loss at the hands of Wyoming, a 26 point underdog.[8] Fulmer completed his long tenure at the University of Tennessee with a 28-10 win over Kentucky on November 29, 2008.[9][10]

Lane Kiffin was hired by Mike Hamilton to succeed Fulmer as the head coach of the Tennessee Vols. Kiffin left Tennessee in January 2010 for USC.

After Tennessee

Fulmer can currently be found as a sports analyst on CBS's SEC Postgame Show. Fulmer also believes he will coach again in the future. He is looking to establish himself at a well-established school. "Somebody that's committed to winning championships and being the best that they can be, with a chance to compete in a conference that's nationally recognized. I'm not going to go walk into a door somewhere that you have no chance to be successful."[11] Fulmer was a strong candidate for the University of Louisville head coaching job. He stated in many interviews that he was interested in the job and also has had a phone interview with Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich. However the job was eventually offered to Charlie Strong.


Fulmer and his wife Vicky have three daughters: Courtney, Brittany, and Allison. Son Phillip Jr. is from a previous marriage. Fulmer is also a new grandfather. Fulmers's first grandchild (from his second child Courtney and her husband, former Tennessee linebacker Robert Peace) made his first appearance at the "Vol Walk" at Neyland Stadium on September 13, 2008.

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl Coaches# AP°
Tennessee Volunteers (SEC) (1992–present)
1992 Tennessee 4–0* 2–0* 3rd (East)* W Hall of Fame 12 12
1993 Tennessee 10–2 7–1 2nd (East) L Florida Citrus 11 12
1994 Tennessee 8–4 5–3 2nd (East) W Gator 18 22
1995 Tennessee 11–1 7–1 2nd (East) W Florida Citrus 2 3
1996 Tennessee 10–2 7–1 2nd (East) W Florida Citrus 9 9
1997 Tennessee 11–2 7–1 1st (East) L Orange 8 7
1998 Tennessee 13–0 8–0 1st (East) W Fiesta 1 1
1999 Tennessee 9–3 6–2 2nd (East) L Fiesta 9 9
2000 Tennessee 8–4 5–3 2nd (East) L Cotton 25
2001 Tennessee 11–2 7–1 1st (East) W Florida Citrus 4 4
2002 Tennessee 8–5 5–3 3rd (East) L Peach
2003 Tennessee 10–3 6–2 T-1st (East) L Peach 16 15
2004 Tennessee 10–3 7–1 1st (East) W Cotton 15 13
2005 Tennessee 5–6 4–4 4th (East)
2006 Tennessee 9–4 5–3 2nd (East) L Outback 23 25
2007 Tennessee 10–4 6–2 T-1st (East) W Outback 12 12
2008 Tennessee 5–7 3–5 5th (East)
Tennessee: 152–52 98–34

*The first three games of the season and the 1993 Hall of Fame Bowl are credited to Fulmer.
The other eight games in between are credited to Johnny Majors.

Total: 152–52
      National Championship         Conference Title         Conference Division Title
Indicates BCS bowl game. #Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.

See also


  1. ^ Marvin West, Tales of Tennessee Vols: Volunteer Legends, Landmarks, Laughs and Lies, 2002, pp. 88-92.
  2. ^ "1999 Tennessean of the Year: Phillip Fulmer". Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2009-04-22.  
  3. ^ Cosby, Chip (November 25, 2008). "Fulmer upstaging The Streak for UK-UT". Lexington Herald-Leader.  
  4. ^ Rucker, Beth (October 8, 2008). "Tennessee fans volunteering to ‘boycott’ lackluster games". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Associated Press).  
  5. ^ Glier, Ray (October 16, 2008). "SEC Notebook: The Fulmer Watch". The New York Times.  
  6. ^ Parrish, Gary (September 20, 2008). "Clock is ticking: Fulmer's time to leave is approaching". CBS Sports.  
  7. ^ Haney, Travis (October 16, 2008). "Vols faithful fed up with Fulmer". The Post and Courier.  
  8. ^ Low, Chris (November 3rd, 2008). "Fulmer agrees to step down as Vols coach". ESPN Sources.  
  9. ^ Moorehouse, John (November 29, 2008). "Fulmer ends career at Tennessee on a winning note as Vols beat Wildcats". Kingsport Times-News.  
  10. ^ Strange, Mike (November 29, 2008). "A fond farewell: Fulmer goes out a winner". Knoxville News-Sentinel.  
  11. ^ [1]

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Johnny Majors
University of Tennessee Head Football Coach
Succeeded by
Lane Kiffin


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