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Phillip Fulmer returns to Vol as special advisor to president

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After nearly a decade “away” from Rocky Top, Phillip Fulmer is back home in an official capacity.

Tuesday, Tennessee announced that Fulmer has been hired by the university as a special advisor to UT president Joe DiPietro.  Specifically, the school stated in its release, “Fulmer will serve as an ambassador for the University system at community and athletics events, support the intercollegiate athletic programs at UT campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin, and work with UT government relations and alumni affairs leadership to advocate for the statewide system with elected officials and UT alumni.”

The move comes four months or so after Fulmer was passed over for the athletic director’s job at his alma mater.

“This is a special opportunity for me. I’ve had the chance to work with Dr. DiPietro for a couple of years in a volunteer capacity, and I was excited when he approached me with this position,” Fulmer said in a statement. “I look forward to serving UT campuses statewide, our communities, and UT athletics for the greater good for our great state and the university.”

A native of Tennessee, Fulmer played his college football for the Volunteers from 1968-71.  He began his coaching career at UT as a student assistant from 1972-73, then, after spending time on coaching staffs at Wichita State and Vanderbilt, he returned to UT as offensive line coach in 1980 before adding the title of offensive coordinator in 1989.

Named head coach in 1992, Fulmer helped guide the Vols to a 152-52 mark that included one national championship, two SEC titles and five SEC East crowns.  His wins are second only to Robert Neyland in school history.

“Phillip has been a tremendous asset to the University of Tennessee both on and off the field for more than 40 years,” DiPietro said. “I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with him on the UT President’s Council, and I look forward to working with him in a broader sense to advocate for the University with our key stakeholders.”

“As a native Tennessean who has given his all for the Vols throughout his life, both as a student-athlete on the field and during a Hall of Fame coaching career leading our program to its most dominant and successful era in modern history, Coach Fulmer is a perfect ambassador for our University and athletics program,” said new UT athletic director John Currie. “I’ve appreciated and enjoyed numerous visits with Coach Fulmer since I returned to Knoxville, and I am honored to work with him in support of President DiPietro and Chancellor Davenport as we serve the University of Tennessee, our students and student-athletes.”

Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa injures thumb on throwing hand in spring practice opener

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This is not exactly the most optimal way to open the spring for Nick Saban and Alabama.

Shortly before seven p.m. ET this evening, grad transfer quarterback Gardner Minshew, who originally committed to play his last season of college football at Alabama, announced on Twitter that he will instead move on to Washington State.  Not long after that, after the Crimson Tide had completed their first practice of the spring, Saban confirmed that Tua Tagovailoa sustained an injury to the thumb on his right (throwing) hand.  Specifically how he sustained the injury wasn’t clear.

The rising sophomore will be taken to Birmingham for further evaluation; just how long he’ll be sidelined remains to be seen.

Jalen Hurts started every game but one at quarterback the past two seasons, guiding the Crimson Tide to a 26-2 record in that span.  He was under center for the national championship game loss to Clemson, and was in the same spot for this year’s title game against Georgia until a 13-0 halftime deficit compelled Saban to pull the trigger on a change.

And the rest, as they say, is history, as Tagovailoa played a significant role in a second-half comeback that was capped by the true freshman’s game-winning touchdown pass in the first overtime.  Even as it seems obvious to those on the outside that this is Tagovailoa’s team moving forward, given how much more advanced the backup is in the passing game than the erstwhile starter, Saban is not quite ready to pull the trigger on a full-time change at the position.  In fact, the head coach even stated that he’s open to playing both quarterbacks.

Minshew, who started five games at East Carolina last season, was viewed as experienced insurance in case Hurts decided to transfer.  Or, if Tagovailoa suffered an injury.

After committing to Alabama, grad transfer QB Gardner Minshew tweets flip to Washington State

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So much for the implementation of the Jalen Hurts Transfer Protection Plan™.

In late February, Gardner Minshew, a graduate transfer quarterback from East Carolina, confirmed that he had committed to play for Alabama and would enroll at the university in May.  Nearly three weeks later, Minshew shifted his course significantly, announcing on Twitter that he is “[p]roud to say that I’ll be playing my last year of college ball at Washington State.”

At least when it comes to the opportunity for playing time, the Cougars, looking to replace Luke Falk, make much more sense than the Crimson Tide, who has, in addition to a two-year starter in Hurts, national championship game hero Tua Tagovailoa.

As a graduate transfer, Minshew will be eligible to play immediately for Wazzu in 2018 and could be in line to win a starting job at the Power Five school.

Minshew started five games for the Pirates last season, throwing for 2,140 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions in completing just over 57 percent of his 304 pass attempts. Prior to his departure from ECU, he was penciled in as the Pirates’ 2018 starting quarterback.

The news of Minshew’s initial commitment to UA came a little over a week after Minshew visited the Tuscaloosa campus.  Earlier in February, it was reported that Alabama had an interest in Minshew, the quarterback who announced late last month that he had withdrawn from East Carolina to tend to a personal matter in his home state of Mississippi.

WATCH: Amazon releases trailer for ‘All or Nothing’ season following Michigan

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“All or Nothing” has been Amazon’s answer to HBO’s “Hard Knocks” with one clear distinction — “All or Nothing” actually follows its subject throughout the season. The first two seasons followed the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams, and has now expanded into the college game. Amazon on Tuesday unveiled the trailer for its upcoming season with Michigan, in which its cameras followed Jim Harbaugh‘s Wolverines through an 8-5 campaign where the maize and blue won no games of consequence.

This is not the first such documentary series to follow a college team. Showtime’s “A Season With” has chronicled seasons of Florida State, Notre Dame and Navy.

The upcoming season will hit all Amazon Prime streaming devices on April 6.

Report: Auburn WR Eli Stove undergoes surgery for torn ACL

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A significant development has gone under the radar at Auburn, until now. Junior wide receiver Eli Stove tore his ACL during Auburn’s first spring practice and underwent surgery last Tuesday, according to Brandon Marcello of Auburn Undercover.

As a sophomore in 2017, Stove caught 29 passes for 265 yards and rushed 30 times for 315 yards and two touchdowns, which made him the Tigers’ third-leading rusher.

Stove was expected to increase his portfolio heading into 2018, but now he’ll spend the foreseeable future working simply to get back on the field. No timetable has been set for Stove’s return.

Though Stove is one of Auburn’s most talented pass-catchers, the Tigers aren’t hurting for depth even in his absence. Nine wideouts caught a pass for Auburn last season, and not one of them was a senior.