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Tennessee announces four-year deal for AD Phillip Fulmer

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Earlier this month, it was reported that Tennessee and Phillip Fulmer were closing in on a long-term deal.  Two weeks later, those reports have come to fruition.

Thursday morning, UT announced that it has reached an agreement on a four-year contract with Fulmer to continue in his role as athletic director.  Fulmer was named as acting athletic director on Dec. 1, not long after John Currie was fired from the post.  His first big move came less than a week after being tabbed for the role when Jeremy Pruitt was hired as the Volunteers’ new head football coach.

Fulmer’s contract will reportedly average $1 million annually, with the opportunity to earn up to $300,000 in bonuses as well.

“Phillip has been a great partner over the last four months and I commend him for the work he has done with our student-athletes, coaches and staff,” chancellor Beverly Davenport said in a statement. “Phillip has been connected to the University of Tennessee and its athletics program for more than 40 years and he understands the expectations we have for our athletics department.

“He is surrounded by a very knowledgeable staff that is deeply committed to the success of our student-athletes. I look forward to our continued partnership.”

A native of Winchester, Tenn., Fulmer played his college football for the Volunteers in the late sixties.  He began his coaching career at UT as a grad assistant from 1972-73, then returned as offensive line coach in 1980.  After spending 13 seasons as an assistant, he took over as the Volunteers head coach in 1992 — Johnny Majors has always alleged Fulmer was behind his ouster — and spent 17 seasons leading his alma mater.

In that span, Fulmer went 152-52, winning a pair of SEC titles and the 1998 national championship.

“I am very grateful to Chancellor Davenport for the opportunity to continue to serve our outstanding university and its proud legacy,” Fulmer said. “The positive momentum established by our talented student-athletes, dedicated coaches, excellent staff, our great alumni and fans has united us all. I am excited to work alongside them as we push forward in pursuit of excellence in all sports.”

Transferring Tennessee QB Quinten Dormady confirms move to Houston

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After beginning the 2017 season as a starting quarterback in the SEC, Quinten Dormady will start the upcoming season in a whole other conference.

Taking to social media, this time via Instagram instead of Twitter, Dormady announced Tuesday night via a photo of himself in a Houston uniform that he will be continuing his collegiate playing career with the Cougars.  As Dormady will be coming to the American Athletic Conference school as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to compete for the starting job at UH immediately in 2018.

Dormady’s announcement comes nearly three months to the day that he announced that he would be transferring from Tennessee.

H-Town 🐾🏈 #gocoogs #houston

A post shared by Quinten Dormady (@qdormady) on

Dormady was the Vols’ starter to open what turned out to be Butch Jones‘ final season in Knoxville.  In starting the first five games of 2017, Dormady had accounted for eight turnovers, six of which were the result of interceptions. Five of those picks came in losses to Florida (three) and Georgia (two).

Coming off a bye, redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano started the Week 7 loss to South Carolina after Dormady was benched following the loss to UGA.  Prior to the Week 9 road trip to Kentucky, it was reported that Dormady would be sidelined the remainder of the year because of a shoulder injury.

Dormady, who grew up near San Antonio, completed 76-of-137 passes (55.5%) for 925 yards, six touchdowns and the six interceptions this past season.  The 6-4, 222-pound junior finishes the Vols portion of his playing career with 1,282 yards, seven touchdown and six picks.  He also ran the ball 22 times for a total of 21 yards.

Report: Tennessee close to new four-year deal for Phillip Fulmer

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Tennessee’s fascinating relationship with coach-turned-athletic director Phillip Fulmer looks like it will be continuing on longer than anybody expected.

Gridiron Now is reporting that the school’s Board of Trustees is close to finalizing a four-year contract with Fulmer to remain as athletics director, with a salary in the $900,000 range per year. He was originally hired in the job back in early December but, while it was ambiguous as to whether he would remain in the big chair for more than a few months at the onset of this Rocky Top reunion, it’s very apparent now that this is a longterm play by the former Vols coach.

The new deal is likely the next step for UT brass after the school finally (and officially) parted ways with former AD John Currie for $2.5 million in March. While that saga dragged on almost as long as the Tennessee football coaching search did — which, in turn, is why Fulmer is in this current job — it appears that the wild past few months of hirings, firings and the like is finally in the rearview mirror in Knoxville and the athletic department can start to look forward to the 2018 season and beyond.

While it used to be somewhat common practice to see successful head coaches eventually take over as athletic director decades ago, Fulmer’s situation certainly is unique given the rather unceremonious exit he made after the 2008 season. If and when this new contract gets approved however, it seems he is proof positive that you can come home after all — with an even better title too.

Jeremy Pruitt knows value of keeping the Vols For Life happy

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As every new head coach may try to do, Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt is looking to keep the doors open to the alums of the Tennessee football program. Knowing he needs to do everything he can to rejuvenate the Tennessee program, tapping into the healthy alumni base of the Vols football program is a wise strategy.

I want as many former VFLs back as we can get,” Pruitt said, according to a spring football story from Knox News. “It’s going to take all of us to get this program back where it’s supposed to be and, I think, that everybody is willing to do that.”

Having high-profile Tennessee alums hanging around the program can be a great recruiting tool as well as a good motivator for the current players on the roster. Over the weekend, Pruitt welcomed former Vols running back Alvin Kamara to a practice. Kamara is coming off a stellar rookie season in the NFL and can immediately be used as a tool for the kind of NFL future you can have by playing football at Tennessee.

“There’s been a lot of men over the years that have worked very hard to build this program up and I get it and I want these guys to come back,” Pruitt explained. “I know the sense of pride when they come back and, I think, they like what they see from our guys.”

As other coaches have found out at other jobs, winning over the alumni from a football program is a key objective because if the alums are not on board with what the new head coach is doing, it can turn ugly pretty quickly (see Al Golden and Miami). Pruitt is cognizant of the importance of keeping the alums happy and the job that is on his hands to keep those alums enthusiastic about the current state of the program.

Butch Jones to make $35K as analyst at Alabama

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Don’t feel too bad for the former Tennessee head coach. I think he’ll get by just fine financially.

Late last month, reports surfaced that Butch Jones could be headed to Alabama in an off-field role; a couple of weeks later, Nick Saban acknowledged the mutual interest. A little over a week ago, after some paperwork issues were smoothed out, the head coach confirmed that Jones will serve as an offensive analyst for the Crimson Tide this coming season.

Thursday, in response to an open-records request, the Knoxville News-Sentinel reported that Jones will pull in a whopping $35,000 this season in his role as an analyst.

Jones, of course, was the head coach at rival Tennessee for nearly five seasons before he was summarily dismissed in mid-November of last year. Prior to that, he was the head coach at Cincinnati (2010-12) and Central Michigan (2007-09); his last job that didn’t involve being a head coach or position coach came as a graduate assistant at Rutgers from 1990-92.

The job with the Vols, which ended with, among other things, a 14-24 mark in conference play, was Jones’ first of any kind in the SEC. Included in that conference record was a 0-5 mark against the Crimson Tide in which the Volunteers were outscored by a combined score of 192-61.

Per his UT contract, Jones will be paid just over $8 million in the form of a buyout, minus whatever he was to make at future jobs through February of 2021. In other words, Jones will pull in an additional $200,000 or so from his former employer while he’s working for his former employer’s rival.