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In propping up current Vols head coach, Phillip Fulmer shoots down rumors that he wants to become the next Vols head coach

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You know how you know your team’s head coach’s tenure has been a fustercluck thus far? When your 69-year-old athletic director has to deny he has any intention of returning to the sidelines while simultaneously giving the current coach the dreaded in-season vote of confidence.

Tennessee football, y’all!

To say that the Jeremy Pruitt era at Tennessee has gotten off to a rocky start would be an understatement. Coming off a 5-7 first season on Rocky Top, Pruitt’s second campaign has seen one of the worst upset losses in the history of college football as well as an embarrassing beatdown at the hands of rival Florida.

All of that has led to tremendous heat underneath Pruitt’s seat.  So hot, in fact, that there has been speculation — probably more wishful, wistful thinking, but whatever — that UT athletic director Phillip Fulmer would come out of retirement to rescue the flailing football program.

During a radio interview Wednesday night, Fulmer, who was the head coach of the Vols from 1992-2008, burst the bubble of those hoping a return to coaching was in the cards…

The other thing that keeps coming up, and I can tell you I want to just address it: The coaching chapter of my life is long closed, OK?” Fulmer said. “I love doing what I’m doing at UT, but I love more being with my family and my grandchildren. And I’m still the assistant to the assistant pee-wee baseball coach, and I’m the flag football coach. And you can’t do those things and ever coach.

… while also very publicly backing his first major coaching hire as his alma mater’s AD.

I mean, Jeremy would tell you himself: We had every opportunity to be 3-1 or better. That’s the discouraging part of it,” Fulmer said during the radio appearance. “But I’m going to tell you this: I totally believe in Coach Pruitt and the job that he’s doing. He’s a leader. He’s a recruiter. He’s a hard worker. He’s tough-minded. He confronts the issues that we have.

“We came in and I was telling everybody — and I don’t think they listened very well — we had a long way to go. We had lots of issues to deal with. And we have a really outstanding, good-looking freshman class. We have seven seniors that are busting their butt, and a lot of other kids on the team, as well.

“We have work to do. But there are some real opportunities out there. If we don’t turn the ball over, we’re a decent football team. But you can’t turn it over against anybody like we have done and expect to be successful.

At 1-3, the Viols are off to their worst start since… Fulmer’s final season in 2008.

And for those curious? UT would owe Pruitt just north of $9 million if they were to let him go following the 2019 season.  That’s very likely not to happen, but there’s the number.  Just in case.

USC beats out Alabama, LSU, others for four-star RB Brandon Campbell

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Facing a must-win season — if the season is even playedClay Helton has added a talented piece to his future USC roster.  If he’s still the Trojans’ head coach come next year, of course.

On his personal Twitter account Saturday night, Brandon Campbell announced that he has committed to playing for Helton and his USC football program. According to 247Sports.com, the running back opted for USC over a list of finalists that included Alabama, LSU, Penn State and TCU.

That same site noted that Florida was also a consideration until Reynolds dropped the Gators this past week.

Campbell is a four-star 2021 prospect. He is rated as the No. 22 back in the country. The Katy, Tex., product is also the No. 49 player in the state regardless of position.

Campbell is the fifth commitment for USC this cycle. He’s the third four-star recruit to verbal. Quarterback Jake Garcia is the only five-star commit.

With the commitment, USC now holds the No. 2 class, behind Oregon, in the Pac-12 on the 247Sports.com composite. Overall, the Trojans are 13th nationally according to that same metric.

USC and Oregon, incidentally, are the only Pac-12 schools in the Top 20 currently. The Big Ten far and away leads all conferences with eight Top 20 classes currently, followed by the SEC’s four, ACC’s three and Big 12’s two. Football-independent Notre Dame (No. 6) is in the group as well.

Washington announces death of former player, coach Jim Lambright

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Jim Lambright spent nearly his entire adult life in Husky purple and gold, and the Lambright family announced Sunday that that life has ended.

“I’m deeply saddened by the news of Coach Lambright’s passing,” Washington AD Jennifer Cohen said in a statement. “Coach Lambright is synonymous with Husky football and he gave so much to this program both as a player and coach. My love for the University of Washington was sparked during Coach’s tenure on our football staff and I’m grateful for the impact he had on so many. I’d like to extend heartfelt condolences to his family, former players, teammates and coaches.”

An Everett, Wash., native, Lambright was an all-conference defensive end for the Huskies from 1962-64. He then moved into coaching as an assistant at Fife High School in Tacoma and then at Shoreline Community College north of Seattle.

His former coach Jim Owens called Lambright home in 1969, and he remained on Washington’s staff for the next 30 years.

Future Hall of Fame coach Don James retained Lambright in 1975 and promoted him to defensive coordinator in 1978, where he helped the Washington win six Pac-8/Pac-10 championships, three Rose Bowls and a share of the 1991 national championship.

Lambright was promoted to head coach upon James’ retirement in 1993, where he went 44-25-1 with a share of the Pac-10 title in 1995 and AP top-20 finishes in 1996 and ’97. He was relieved of duties after the 1998 season in favor of Rick Neuheisel.

“Coach Lambright was a legend at the UW, particularly when it came to playing the kind of physical, aggressive defense that his teams were known for,” said Washington head coach Jimmy Lake. “He was always supportive of the program that he loved so much. His impact on Husky football will not be forgotten.”

Lambright is survived by his daughter Kris, son Eric and two grandchildren. He was 77 years old. Cause of death was not revealed.

Patriarch of Hebert family dies of coronavirus complications

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Bobby Hebert, Sr., died Saturday due to complications of COVID-19, the family has announced. He was 81 years old.

Bobby, Sr., was the patriarch of the Hebert clan, a prominent football family in Louisiana.

Bobby Hebert, Jr., played quarterback at Northwestern State in the early 1980s — he was a teammate of Ed Orgeron‘s — before becoming the most decorated player in USFL history and a 12-year quarterback for the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons.

Bobby’s grandson, T-Bob Hebert, played center at LSU from 2007-11. He was a redshirt on the Tigers’ 2007 title team and started on the 2011 LSU team that won that season’s SEC title and reached the BCS National Championship.

Bobby, Jr., is now an afternoon host for WWL-AM sports radio in New Orleans, and T-Bob hosts mornings for the ESPN Radio affiliate in Baton Rouge.

“You can be tough and the virus can still overwhelm you,” Bobby, Jr., said on WWL on Friday.

“I’m kinda numb and shocked. You get numb and then sometimes you don’t want to accept reality and what you are dealing with.”

Through tears, Hebert, Jr., described his father as a “fighter” who survived colon cancer, multiple strokes and a birth defect that required open-heart surgery.

Former LSU WR Orlando McDaniel dies from coronavirus complications

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Former LSU wide receiver Orlando McDaniel has died from complications related to COVID-19, according to LSU track and field coach Dennis Shaver.

Shaver told WBRZ McDaniel fell ill after traveling to Washington, D.C., to visit a family member.

A Shreveport native, McDaniel played wide receiver for LSU from 1978-81. He caught 64 passes for 1,184 yards and three touchdowns over his career in addition to winning an SEC championship and a runner-up finish at the NCAA championships as a 110-meter hurdler.

He was a second-round pick of the Denver Broncos in 1982 and played in three career games.

McDaniel, who was 59 and not 89, founded a youth track club in North Texas after finishing his playing career.

“He was such a tremendous athlete in both sports, but the love he had for track and field was really special,” Shaver told WBRZ. “We’re fortunate that people like him get involved with our youth.

“He was one of the most important people in our sport. He had to persuade youth to spend their summers doing something productive. Orlando had essentially dedicated his life to it. They’d come to summer meets and have two busloads full of people. It was a real impressive group of people. He’s sorely going to be missed.”