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Higgins: Fulmer needs a fresh start, and so does UT.


SacFalcFan
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ATHENS, Ga. — It was beautiful.

Tennessee’s quarterback dropped briskly in the pocket, masterfully executing ball fakes drawing in the Georgia linebackers, and throwing darts to receivers who didn’t drop anything.

And the Vols’ running backs hit holes hard provided by an offensive line that gashed Georgia’s defensive front time and again.

Of course, this didn’t happen Saturday.

I was referring to a 30-27 Tennessee victory over Georgia from 1995 that I saw on ESPN Classic on Friday. Man, it was fun to watch.

Which brings me to the sad state of affairs of Tennessee football after the Vols remained 0-for-the SEC (0-3 in the Eastern Division, 2-4 overall) this season with their 26-14 loss to Georgia here at Sanford Stadium Saturday afternoon.

There was the Vols’ offense that’s a jumbled mess, an attack (and I use that word lightly) that gained one stinkin’ rushing yard. The dead guy from the old comedy “Weekend at Bernie’s” can gain that much by falling over.

There’s a defense, that despite making two interceptions, let Georgia receivers run wide open. Hint for Vols’ defensive guru John Chavis: It might help if your defensive backs started plays lining up closer than 8 yards off receivers.

Then, there’s just the plain lack of discipline. The Vols had four personal foul penalties, three for late hits. Better late than never, huh boys?

So here’s a question for Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton and all the Vols’ deep-pocket boosters. How long does this mess have to go on before you realize that Phillip Fulmer isn’t going to raise this sunken ship from the bottom of the SEC East?

Are Fulmer and his staff worse as coaches than they were at the start of this decade? Probably not. But Tennessee’s recruiting has been on a downhill slide for several years, and it’s showing up big now, especially with the addition in recent years of aggressive recruiters such as Alabama’s Nick Saban and Florida’s Urban Meyer.

You can’t fool the consumer. There are vast amounts of empty seats at the non-conference home games. And check the message boards. Even the fans who like Fulmer personally are almost apologetic when writing they’ve lost faith in him and his program.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the school needs to offer Fulmer his $6 million buyout, but he didn’t sound after Saturday’s game as if quitting is in his vocabulary.

“I told them (his team) that ‘everybody in the world is going to talk about me, about the staff, about themselves and about what kind of backbone we’ve got,’” Fulmer said. “We need to look them in the eye and say, ‘I’m not quitting.’”

Defiant words? I wouldn’t expect anything less from Fulmer. He’s coached relatively well for 16 seasons, and at age 58, he could coach for at least 10 more years.

But it needs to be somewhere else. He needs a fresh start, and so does Tennessee.

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“I told them (his team) that ‘everybody in the world is going to talk about me, about the staff, about themselves and about what kind of backbone we’ve got,’” Fulmer said. “We need to look them in the eye and say, ‘I’m not quitting.’”

He may not quit but it doesnt mean that Tenn wont offer him or negotiate that 6 million buy out and fire him... Which probably should happen seeing how his time there is coming to an end. Not to mention im tired of hearing the rumors of phil getting fired if he doesnt win games routine. Honestly dont see him coaching anywhere else, so may be another year before anything happens. Then he may retire if it continues to be a losing season...

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