Why Phil Fulmer would be the right hire?
From earlier this year, a look back at something Rob wrote just a few months ago on the potential coaching search.
After this weekend’s shutout by the Florida Gators, the hot seat for Joker Phillips just became the equivalent of sitting on a metal chair in the lower depths of Hades. As much I hoped the Joker experiment would work, it has just fallen flat. Now the speculation of who the replacement coach will be, is all UK fans really to care about.
Honestly, I’d love to see UK hire the next big name in football. I hear names like Willie Taggart, Sonny Dykes and Kirby Smart. Any of those three are solid choices and may be an immediate upgrade, but my opinion at this point is that the athletic director has to make a hire that is safe and can rebuild the football program by bringing experience to the team, immediately. I don’t think Mitch Barnhart can afford to take the chance on an unproven person to run the team.
There are three names I hear more often than any as far as experienced coaches, and those are Frank Solich, Jim Tressel and Phil Fulmer. I want to focus on Phil Fulmer first. I know some of you reading may have just gotten a little sick to your stomach, but hear me out.
Phil Fulmer was a long time assistant and head coach at Tennessee for a total of 28 years at one program (not counting his time as a player). That kind of longevity is something you don’t see at any university these days. As the head coach, he amassed the record of 152-52, going to 15 bowl games (7 of which were major bowl games) and kept Tennessee at a championship level outside the 2 of the last 3 years of his career there. It may not be impressive, but Compare that to the 91-109 record Rich Brooks had at Oregon and you see the difference. I know it’s comparing a rebuilt program in Oregon to a established record at Tennessee, but like it or not Phil Fulmer knew how to coach winning football. If UK is going to take steps into going into the “next level” of trying to be a big time football team, they need to be coached by someone who has the experience of running a program of that caliber. Love it or hate it, Tennessee football in the state is as big as Kentucky basketball is in this state. Phil Fulmer, has the years of experience of running a big program and his knowledge would be an asset.
Phil Fulmer was considered an excellent recruiter as well. It seems as if people are worried we might take a step back without Joker’s recruiting, so we need someone who has the reputation to close deals with great players. A Hall of Fame coach could make strides to getting the athletes on the field.
While you may not have loved Phil in the big orange suit on the opposite side of the field, this is one person who likes the idea of him wearing blue and building a staff that intends to beat the school that let him go a few short years ago. I have enough faith that he could and would do just that.
While you could argue that Frank Solich or Jim Tressel would be better hires, I believe there are a few things to consider. Coach Solich is getting close to 70 years of age and while that’s not a problem for me, it may be for him. And while he’s had a great start to this year, his former years aren’t exactly the best. Until this year his record in the Mid American Conference is a meager 50-40. That’s not exactly a power conference so I’m unsure that he could do that much better at Kentucky. As for Jim Tressel, we have to hope we aren’t going to get the baggage that comes with the probation at Ohio State. While he didn’t commit the violations, he did cover it up by lying to the NCAA about his knowledge. Unfortunately, the football program at UK may not be able to make that kind of hire being fresh off probation a few short years ago.
We shall see what the athletics department does in the next few weeks. Until then, don’t fret over the name of Coach Phil. He may be the solution you least expect.
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