Tennessee is still in search of its next athletics director, which has become a point of contention lately — and especially over the past 24 hours.
Alabama hired Greg Byrne away from Arizona without ever letting the job hit the open market, which begs the question, just what the heck are they doing in Knoxville? Outgoing AD Dave Hart has been outgoing since before football season started. Getting outmaneuvered by their rivals to the south — their immensely more successful rivals to the south, at least in the sport that matters in Tennessee — has created turmoil for an athletics department that majors in it.
As an apparent slice of red meet to the fans, the Vols let it be known Monday Phillip Fulmer is a serious candidate for their AD job.
“Fulmer has grown close to Tennessee President Joe DiPietro and a group of influential boosters have been working behind the scenes to help install him as Dave Hart’s replacement, according to people close to the situation,” Wolken writes.
Fulmer has exactly zero athletics director experience, but he is a harken back to the glory days of yonder for the Volunteers. He went 152-52 in 17 seasons with six top-10 finishes, three SEC titles, six SEC East crowns and a national championship in 1998.
In fact, even the “bad” Fulmer seasons — a .531 SEC winning percentage with one top-15 finish and one SEC East championship from 2005-08 — compare favorably with the marks of his three successors. Lane Kiffin, Derek Dooley and Butch Jones have collectively posted a .349 SEC winning percentage with zero top-15 finishes and zero SEC East championships in the eight seasons since Fulmer’s dumping.
It’s not clear what Fulmer brings to the department beyond a familiar face and a living, breathing link to the glory days, but perhaps those attributes are good enough at Tennessee.
Following a somewhat disappointing season in Knoxville, changes are in the air for the Tennessee Vols coaching staff. Among the first changes of the offseason comes at the defensive back coaching position.
Tennessee has announced the addition of Charlton Warren as the new defensive backs coach for the Vols. It is the same role he previously filled at North Carolina for the past two seasons. Warren will replace Willie Martinez, who will not be returning to the Tennessee staff in 2017, according to a released statement from the university’s athletics department.
“Coach Warren is a passionate, knowledgeable and driven football coach that has an outstanding history of developing defensive backs on the collegiate level,” Tennessee head coach Butch Jones said in a released statement. “He also has a great reputation as one of the top recruiters in the country with strong ties to our recruiting areas. We feel extremely fortunate to add someone of his caliber to our coaching staff and our defensive meeting room.”
Tennessee finished ranked 10th in the SEC in passing defense, allowing an average of 230.7 yards per game through the air to opposing quarterbacks. The Vols allowed the fifth-lowest opponent passer rating and picked off 11 passes while allowing 18 touchdown passes, which actually fared well among SEC peers even if just around the middle of the pack or just toward the bottom half of the conference in each category. For a school that prides itself on its defensive backs, a change was necessary.
North Carolina owned the ACC’s top pass defense in 2016, allowing just 180.8 yards per game and 11 touchdown passes. The one downside was having just one interception recorded in 13 games. Every other FBS program had at least three interceptions last season. How UNC only picked off one pass all season long is quite a remarkable feat considering how respectable the pass defense was last season.
Alabama may have seen their dynasty temporarily derailed Monday night in Florida, but at least one wagering establishment expects Nick Saban to get it back on track post-haste.
Bovada.lv released its opening set of 2017 national championship odds very early Tuesday afternoon, with the bookmaker installing Bama as a 4/1 favorite coming off the loss to Clemson. Last year at this time, coming off their fourth title in seven years, the same book had the Crimson Tide as a 7/1 favorite.
The team ‘Bama beat, Clemson, is at 16/1, tied with ACC Atlantic rival Louisville and behind six other teams besides the one they beat on the field last night — Florida State (7/1), Ohio State (15/2), Michigan (9/1), Oklahoma (9/1), USC (9/1) and LSU (12/1). The other 2016 playoff team, Washington, is at 40/1, the same as 4-8 Notre Dame and behind the likes of Texas (28/1) and Miami (33/1).
Boise State, at 75/1, was the highest favorite amongst Group of Five programs.
Below are the complete list of 2018 title odds for the championship following the 2017 season, again courtesy on Bovada.lv:
The votes are in and — surprise!!! — Clemson’s the media’s king as well.
The Associated Press released its final 2016 rankings Tuesday morning, with Clemson, off their stirring win over the cyborg that is Alabama football, claiming the No. 1 spot in the last Top 25 of the 2016 season. As expected, the Tigers claimed all 60 first-place votes, while the Crimson Tide earned all 60 second-place votes to finish No. 2 in the final AP poll.
Up next is the a team that will no doubt be the media darling throughout the offseason — I’m already guilty, as you’ll see shortly — with USC moving from ninth to third on the strength of the epic Rose Bowl win over Penn State (fifth to seventh) as well as a nine-game winning streak to close out the season. Ohio State, which was shutout by Clemson in a College Football Playoff semifinal, tumbled from second to sixth.
The remainder of the Top 10 is rounded out by Washington (No. 4), Oklahoma (No. 5), Florida State (No. 8), Wisconsin (No. 9) and Michigan (No. 10).
Three Group of Five teams managed to finish in the final Top 25, although none came in higher than 15th: Western Michigan (No. 15), South Florida (No. 19), San Diego State (No. 25). Two of those teams will have new coaches in 2017, with Charlie Strong replacing Willie Taggart with the Bulls and a too-be-determined replacing P.J. Fleck with the Broncos.
If you’re looking for a class with star power, this one has it. In spades.
Monday morning, the National Football Foundation announced the 2017 class that will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame this year. The group includes 19 players and three coaches.
- BOB CRABLE – LB, Notre Dame (1978-81)
- MARSHALL FAULK – RB, San Diego State (1991-93)
- KIRK GIBSON – WR, Michigan State (1975-78)
- MATT LEINART – QB, Southern California (2003-05)
- PEYTON MANNING – QB, Tennessee (1994-97)
- BOB McKAY – OT, Texas (1968-69)
- DAT NGUYEN – LB, Texas A&M (1995-98)
- ADRIAN PETERSON – RB, Georgia Southern (1998-2001)
- MIKE RUTH – NG, Boston College (1982-85)
- BRIAN URLACHER – DB, New Mexico (1996-99)
- DANNY FORD – 122-59-5 (66.9%); Clemson (1978-89), Arkansas (1993-97)
- LARRY KEHRES – 332-24-3 (92.9%); Mount Union (Ohio) (1986-2012)
- STEVE SPURRIER – 228-89-2 (71.8%); Duke (1987-89), Florida (1990-2001), South Carolina (2005-15)
Spurrier is already in the Hall of Fame as a player. He will become just the fourth individual to be inducted as both a player and a coach, joining Bobby Dodd, Amos Alonzo Stagg and Bowden Wyatt.
In 2011, Faulk was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Gibson is likely known to most as the former Los Angles Dodgers baseball player, whose home run trot in the 1988 World Series remains one of the most iconic moments in the sport’s history.
Kehres is the only head coach at any level of college football to finish with a winning percentage above .900 — his Purple Raiders won a staggering 332 of 359 games (with three ties) for a .929 win percentage during the incredible run that lasted nearly three decades.
Urlacher is the first player from the University of New Mexico to be elected, while the “other” Adrian Peterson is just the second from Georgia Southern (Tracy Ham, 2007).