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Phillip Fulmer to Arkansas? Former assistant says they’re talking

Phillip Fulmer AP

Like Jon Gruden, no coaching search would be complete unless Phillip Fulmer‘s name came up at least in passing.

The former Tennessee coach has now been added to the ever-growing list of potential replacements for the fired Bobby Petrino, along with the likes of Gary Patterson and Gus Malzahn. Rumors connecting Fulmer to the vacant job have been circulating for a few days, but the former Vol does have one thing other coaching candidates do not: immediate availability.

And, apparently, Fulmer’s more than a name tossed into the hat.

I know Phillip has had conversations with them,” former UT assistant Doug Matthews told WGFX-FM in Knoxville. “And when I say with them, all that is going to take place behind the scenes.

“But everything I’m hearing from Arkansas is the spring game, I think, is this Saturday. ‘Let’s get through spring. Let’s see where we are.’ But I think they’ll either go with a guy that they’ve got on the staff or they’ll bring in someone to be — caretaker’s the wrong word — but bring someone in who has been through it all before.

“If there is a place for Phillip, that will be the place.”

For the record, Fulmer has denied being contacted by UA. Additionally, Garrick McGee‘s name has come up as well. So has… wait for it… Pete Carroll.

Fulmer, 61, has been out of the coaching gig for a few years now and was briefly associated with the Tennessee athletic director position. He still has some miles in the tank, but what Arkansas needs to decide is if they want an immediate replacement — Fulmer would certainly give them that option, and in all likelihood, would not change the coaching staff — or a search in seven or eight months down the road.

Given the way athletic director Jeff Long has handled this situation so far — that is to say he’s handled it well — my guess would be the latter option.

Which is good, because I don’t know how many more candidates the rumor mill can continue to spew out.

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17 Responses to “Phillip Fulmer to Arkansas? Former assistant says they’re talking”
  1. wabbitslayer says: Apr 18, 2012 8:22 PM

    Would make more sense than any other name being thrown around; also be nice to see the Vols reminded of how their program has been since they fired him. Despite his last few years, the man knows how to run a program and would be a solid, low-profile steward for the program. He’s getting some age on him, but get him an up and coming OC to groom to take over in 5-6 years and…

  2. halbert53 says: Apr 18, 2012 8:56 PM

    Long has done a good job handling a mess he helped create. Even granting he didn’t know about the affair, had Long done anything other than rubber stamp Petrino’s recommendation to hire Dorrell, he would have realized her legitimate qualifications paled in comparison to others, both finalists and other applicants. As AD, Long had final approval in the athletics department. Long to some extent a victim here, but he is also part of the problem.

  3. thraiderskin says: Apr 18, 2012 10:06 PM

    Pretty sure the school called Pete Carroll after the Petrino firing (according to Really looks like they have high-calibre character in mind for the next hire, some might same, “much like the last hire.”

  4. myownair says: Apr 18, 2012 10:11 PM

    YESSSS!!! I called this last week at school and the coaches said that Fulmer would never leave Tennessee. As a Vanderbilt fan, I’ve missed Phil and all the drama that his lack of a moral compass provides. This is a perfect fit: at UT, he allowed players to pillage their way through Knoxville in a litany of misdemeanors and felonies. I’d love to see his rotund figure bedecked in red on the Hogs’ sidelines this fall. Dooley is doing a splendid job wrecking the Volunteer program and seeing Fulmer back in action will be icing on the cake.

  5. jimr10 says: Apr 18, 2012 10:11 PM

    April fools day was 18 days ago…

  6. painterdude says: Apr 18, 2012 10:28 PM


  7. florida727 says: Apr 19, 2012 6:59 AM

    When you’re the head coach of an elite SEC football program and your athletes have more mug shots taken than they display in any United States Post Office, you get fired and watch games on cable. When you get fired and watch games on cable, people forget about you. When people forget about you, you have to wait for an opportunity to open up thanks to a scandal. When an opportunity opens up thanks to a scandal, you have your agent behind the scenes rekindle your name as a possible candidate via the media. When you have your agent behind the scenes rekindles your name as a possible candidate via the media, you deny contact with the AD regarding the opening for fear of being rejected. Don’t deny contact with the AD regarding the opening for fear of being rejected. Get rid of cable. And upgrade to Direct TV. Call 1-800-DIRECT-TV.

  8. jimbo75025 says: Apr 19, 2012 7:53 AM

    Eh, make all the Fat Phil jokes you want, but for about 15 years there before the season you could pencil in UT for top 10 every year and rarely be wrong.

    Not sure he will ever get another shot for an SEC or other big time school, but kind of suprised a smaller school has not brought him in by this point. Guess a lot has to do with the perception that Chavis and Cutcliff were the ones really running their own respective shows. Despite its history, UT has and is always going to have to recruit big time out of state as simply not enough 4-5* guys coming out of the state.

  9. waynefontes says: Apr 19, 2012 9:25 AM

    152-52 record (98-34 in the SEC)

    National Championship

    2 SEC titles, 6 division titles

    Coach of the Year award winner

    An excellent recruiter

    He even has the “Fulmer Cup” named in his honor.. or is that dishonor…. ^_^

    Interesting how he can’t seem to find another job with a resume like that.

    Yes, there were a lot of thugs… a LOT of thugs.. on his teams and that the UT program was in a decline when he left.

    Still, you would think somebody would take a chance on the Great Pumpkin.

  10. bnoles4life says: Apr 19, 2012 10:01 AM

    I’m guessing the difficulty in his finding another “gig” post-Tennessee, might have something to do w/ the perceived “snitching” he allegedly wielded against the Alabama program. Considering many programs aren’t very “clean”, this probably doesn’t bode well w/ any potential suitors.

  11. kozbee says: Apr 19, 2012 10:42 AM

    IMO if Ark was in interest on hiring the tasty donut man Fulmer then in all cases i would keep BP and let him coach.Ark doesnt need a teardown master like hes done in the past like a coach Fulmer.Fulmer`s last few seasons at Tenn was a shame of a football program that was going nowhere.Does Arkansas want to go back down that road again lets hope not.Plenty of good coaches still out there that can do a much better job then Fulmer did @ Tenn.Kirby Smart imo would fare well at Ark and imo thats who i would be trying to hire as coach that has his mind on the game,leave Fulmer in retirement.
    kozbee / Auburn

  12. vols84 says: Apr 19, 2012 2:02 PM

    Kirby Smart is Will Muschamp 2.0…..the hype grows every year.

  13. whalerpilot says: Apr 19, 2012 2:43 PM

    Arkansas players and fans want Garrick McGee as an Interim Coach for a couple years, not a has been from Tennessee for a year or two. Arkansas should make Garrick a respectable 2 year offer he can’t turn down with a performance option and make the Long Term decision over the next couple of years as opportunities or Candidates become available. I don’t think Long will rush to Judgement for the short term, and any Coach with Baggage especially in the SEC would not be a wise decision. My bet is Garrick McGee on a 2 year interim contract with a renewable performance or buy out option if another suitable long term Coach becomes available or interested over the next couple of years. Arkansas has no need to hire a Coach based on what is currently available. A long term search would seem to be the prudent course of action.

  14. jimbo75025 says: Apr 19, 2012 2:58 PM

    vols84 says:
    Apr 19, 2012 2:02 PM
    Kirby Smart is Will Muschamp 2.0…..the hype grows every year.


    Tend to agree with you. Easy to be a defensive mastermind when Yoda (Saban) is looking over your shoulder……..

  15. mountaineer50415 says: Apr 19, 2012 3:12 PM

    I have to say that if there is an advertisement that I hate more than the Direct TV one, I can not think of it. Everytime it comes on I fast forward through it. Yet here I have heard it twice. Must be a real favorite of Florida 727. Maybe you work for Direct. If so please leave your work at work.
    This is for football talk.
    I do hope that Arkansas gets the best coach for Arkansas. What works in one place does not always work in another. Too bad the great coach they had was such a scum bag. At least they have now gotten rid of her too.

  16. Deb says: Apr 19, 2012 3:18 PM

    thraiderskin says:

    Pretty sure the school called Pete Carroll after the Petrino firing (according to Really looks like they have high-calibre character in mind for the next hire, some might same, “much like the last hire.”

    Well … it looks like Long has a higher-caliber coach in mind than Fulmer. But I’d agree that if he approached Carroll, Long is going for a character “much like the last hire.” Apparently he didn’t learn much from the Petrino debacle.

  17. ihatedallasandauburn says: Apr 19, 2012 5:27 PM

    saban would love the chance to beat down fat phill some more!

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