Sunday, October 12, 2008

Time for a change?

So, apparently I have more blog readers than I thought. As the days go by, I've received so many complaints that I have neglected to blog. With that said, please accept my sincere's nice to know some people look forward to my "words of...wisdom?" Hopefully since I have more time on my hands I'll be able to post more often. Keep checking back and thanks for your support!!

So, with lots of thought, this round, I've decided to go with a popular topic. Tennessee Football. Well, more or less, Phillip Fulmer and Tennessee Football. Or lack of Tennessee Football, however you want to look at it. I have my opinion on what needs to change with Tennessee Football, but I'll save it for the end of this blog. All I really want to do, is throw out some numbers and let you make a decision (as if you already didn't have one). Without delay, here we go...Phillip Fulmer and Tennessee Football.
Everything I discuss from here on out, will encompass Phil Fulmers career at Tennessee as a head coach. In other words, everything from 1992 until now. Here is the raw data, with my comments in yellow:

Phil Fulmers career record at Tennessee (1992-2008):
Wins: 144
Losses: 49
Not too bad eh? He has won almost right at 75 percent of his games. Lets break that down though...from here on out, what I'm going to do, is present Fulmers record up until the National Championship year of 1998. Then I will compare those numbers to his post National Championship numbers. (1998 through 2008) Here goes...

Phil Fulmers record 1992-1998:
Wins: 62
Losses: 11
Again, not to bad. From 92-98 he won roughly 85 percent of his games.

Phil Fulmers bowl record 1992-1998:
Wins: 5
Losses: 2
Not bad...5 out of 7. I don't know any coach in America who wouldn't take that record in a bowl game.

Phil Fulmer's average wins 1992-1998: 9.5
Phil Fulmer's average losses 1992-1998: 1.5
Not shabby at all. Pretty good in fact.

Polls? from 1992 through 1998, Tennessee averaged 9th place in the national polls.
This isn't bad either. Anytime a team can average a top 10 spot over 7 years, is a good thing.

Now, lets look at SEC numbers:

Phil Fulmers record in the SEC 1992-1998:
Wins: 43
Losses: 7
This is pretty awesome. Between 92 and 98, he won roughly 88 percent of his conference games.

Phil Fulmer averaged 6 wins per season (92-98) in the Southeastern Conference.
Phil Fulmer averaged 1 loss per season (92-98) in the Southeastern Conference.
Again, not too shabby.


Now, lets remember those numbers (or check back with them for reference when we need to) and look at his numbers from 1999 until 2008. As you will see, the difference is pretty drastic.

Phil Fulmers record 1999-2008:
Wins: 82
Losses: 38
As you can see, the number of losses drastically went up. How far? Well, he went from winning 85 percent of his games pre 1998 and now since then has only won 68 percent of his games. Read it again if you need to. Since 1998, Fulmer has won only 68 percent of the time.

Phil Fulmers bowl record 1999-2007:
Wins: 3
Losses: 6
Wow! A pretty big difference here huh? He went from winning 5 of 7 pre championship to winning 3 of nine post championship. Thats around 33 percent. Thats right, since 1998, Phil Fulmer has won a whopping 33 percent of his bowl games. Thats down from winning around 75 percent of bowl games pre championship.

Phil Fulmer's average wins 1999-2008: 8.8
Phil Fulmer's average losses 1999-2008: 4
Again, wow. Fulmer went from averaging 1.5 losses to averaging 4 losses. I don't think anything more needs to be said about this. It speaks for itself.

Polls? From 1999-2007, Tennessee has averaged 20th in the national polls. Of those years, there were 3 years where Tennessee didn't even finish the season in the top 25.
Did anyone see what I just wrote? Tennessee averaged 20th place in the polls and didn't even finish in the polls on 3 occasions. Their average dropped from 9th pre championship to 20th post championship. Their average dropped 11 spots. Yuk.

It gets uglier...keep reading (If you can stand it)

Here are the SEC numbers post 1998 Championship:

Phil Fulmers record in the SEC 1999-2008:
Wins: 50
Losses: 24
I can't help but say it! Fulmer went from just 7 total losses pre championship to 24 losses post championship. Averages? Read on...

Phil Fulmer averaged 5.5 wins 1999-2007 in the Southeastern Conference.
Phil Fulmer averaged 2.5 losses 1999-2007 in the Southeastern Conference.
Again, more losses in the conference. This is pretty bad. Since 2005 alone, Tennessee has lost 13 conference games. Since 2005 they are 14-13 in conference games. One win above 50 percent. That is sad folks. Really sad.

For the second time in 4 years, it already looks as if Tennessee and Phil Fulmer are going to have at least 5 losses and at the rate that they are going this year, it may be the second time in 4 years they go without a bowl invitation. Time will tell on that one. Here are a couple more interesting statistics:

Between 1992 and 1998, Tennessee finished first(3 times) and second (3 times) every year.
Since then, between 1999 and now, Tennessee has finished first (outright) once, tied for first twice, finished second twice, and tied for second twice. They also finished third once, fouth once and currently they are tied for sixth place in the Southeastern Conference.

Tennessee and Philip Fulmer have not won an SEC championship in 10 years and also have not won a National Championship in 10 years.
So there it is. In black and white. The numbers say it all. Pre National Title, Tennessee was one of the most consistent teams in the country. Post championship however, Tennessee has been one of the most, if not THE most inconsistent team in the country. They consistently under preform and I'm not even going to get into the whole recruiting decline. Fact of the matter is, even when Tennessee does get a good talented team, the talent is not developed as it should be.
Tennessee has also become one of the most undisciplined teams in the country. It seems every day now, a player is being suspended or arrested. Especially in the off season. Fulmer has never been a huge disciplinarian, so I don't know why I expect that to change...I guess that after it happens so much, you'd think the coach would do something to make it clear...crystal clear to his players that they either stay out of trouble or they are off the team. It has shown to not be an important item of coach Fulmers agenda. When Fulmer does impose punishment, he does so depending on what status you have on the team. If you are a starter, you punishment is much less severe than if you were on the second or third team. Don't believe me, check out the Knoxville Newspapers archives and see for yourself. It's unbelievable.
Now don't get me wrong, I have respect for Coach Fulmer and all he has done for the Volunteers in his tenure here. He has given alot of time and effort here and hec, he brought the fans the first National Championship they'd seen in almost 50 years. However, all good things do and must come to and end.
While Fulmer I believe is a good coach still, I just don't think he is good enough to coach in the SEC anymore. It's not that I think his level of coaching has gone down, it's just that the level of coaching in the SEC has gone up. I remember back in the "glory" days of Tennessee Football, you could count the "exceptional" coaches in the conference on one hand. You had Fulmer at Tennessee, Spurrier at Florida, really about all. Now look at what/who you have...There is Spurrier, Richt, Miles, Saban, Meyer and Tuberville, just to mention a few. All of whom I believe are better coaches than Phil Fulmer. He just is not at their level to compete any more. I don't know if I want to say the game has "passed him by" but I do think things here at Tennessee have gotten stale. Don't take my word for it, look at the numbers. Look at the record. I laid it out for you above. It's all there. The numbers don't lie.
Tennessee football is obviously in a major decline and it doesn't seem to be getting any better. A couple of years ago, I wasn't ready to jump on "fire Phil" bandwagon. I wanted to give him a chance to fix things. After all, I believe every good coach has his ups and downs and a coach like Fulmer deserves a chance to get back on track after a bad season. After all, just because you are a good coach, doesn't mean you don't have a bad season here or there. However, now I'm at the point where I think this is a problem that is beyond fixing unless the "powers that be" realize that a change needs to be made and needs to be made fast. Sometimes, being at one place for a long time can make you stale as a coach. I think a change would be good not only for Fulmer, but for Tennessee. They've been through the "motions" before, using Randy Sanders and much of the Tennessee offensive staff as scapegoats, but even after wholesale changes on the staff, the same team continued to show up. Fulmer can't hide from this for much longer and which each passing year, and with each passing game, it is becoming more and more evident.
As far as the "coaches can't control what goes on, on the field" argument, I don't buy it. A good coach, is also a good motivator. A good motivator can motivate a team to play with passion and heart. Alot of the intensity you see on the field starts with the coach. Another thing that starts with the coach is player development. Case in point is Jonathan Crompton. He was horrible to begin the 2008 campaign. How bad? Bad enough to warrant a quarterback change midway thorugh the season. Something that is happening more and more often in Tennessee. My biggest question is this...Crompton has been at Tennessee for 4 years now. 4 years. Why is it, that in 4 years, Tennessee couldn't develop this guy at all to be a QB? They had 4 years and couldn't get it done. He was playing like a freshman right out of high school. Not a redshirt junior that has been in the program for 4 years. This is just the tip of the iceberg on player development. All in all, yes, the coaches do have a say so in what goes on during the game on the field. It's their job to "coach" the players to do the right thing, make the right plays and handle themselves in a professional manner on and off the field. When none of these things happens, it comes back to the coaches. What are they doing wrong? Why is Fulmer and the coaching staff not motivating the players, developing them into the players they all have the potential to be?
There are alot of unanswered questions, but the biggest one in my mind, is how many of these years will it take to get a change at the top for Tennessee football. What will it take for Mike Hamilton to see that the fans in large are not happy and will not accept this mediocrity. I hope the end is near to this debacle that is currently Tennessee Football. Again, while I have all the respect in the world for coach Fulmer, I believe a trait of a good coach is knowing when to say when. When to hang up your hat, and when to move on. It's time to do what's in the best interest of the team, not what is in the best interest of yourself. Go out with a good reputation...if you wait any longer, you will tarnish what legacy you have here in big orange country. Take a look at your record. It's in constant decline. Neyland stadium is rarely full if ever anymore. Take a hint, see the writing on the wall and take it like a man. Bow out coach. Thank you for everything you've done, but please for the sake of the team and the reputation of Tennessee football, move on.
I would love to hear everyones comments on this article. What do you all think? And how is that for substance on a blog?

Until next time, there is always basketball season...and who'd have thunk it?


Anonymous said...

Well said, and reasoned out. I like coach Fulmer too, but it is time for him to go!

VolinDenver said...

First time visitor to your blog.
Your comments are dead spot on. Nobody questions the passion & love that Phil Fulmer has brought to the university doing something that he loves & has devoted almost his entire life to. His arrogance, stubbornness, & ego are the issue here. Walk away now, & the people will quickly forgive him for waiting too long to retire, but if he continues to drag this out, the resentment will grow big time, & his legacy will take a hit as well as his careeer win / loss %.

Brian said...

Hey Phil, you have some good comments in there. While, I'm in general agreement with you and share your frustration, as you well know, I don't know that we can get rid of Phil that easy.

One, take a look at Joe Pa up at PSU. He's been around forever. Early in the decade after many years of Top 25 and Top 10 success he had several LOSING seasons in a row (I think 4 out 5 is what I heard). Now he's back to averaging 9 wins a season. Now we all know the Big 10(should be 11) is a weaker conference, but that is good success for any coach at a major conference.

Two, who are we going to get as a replacement? Take UGA, Alabama, and Florida, they all have great coaches, but look at what they had to go through to get them:

Florida had to suffer through 3 seasons of Ron Zook.

UGA had to suffer through who knows how many seasons of Jim Donnan.

And Alabama, oh Alabama, they finally have a replacement for Bear, 25 years after he died. Now they were good until about 1992, but since then, it has been a revolving door down there.

So who do we get that's a great recruiter and a good X&O guy? Maybe your next blog could be on potential replacement coaches.

Anonymous said...

Dude, 43-7 isn't 88%. It's 86%. But, I do agree with the tone of your argument. The SEC has passed Fulmer by. He's lost whatever mojo he may have had pre-1998 and it ain't coming back. It's time for regime change in Knoxville. If Mike Hamilton won't take care of it, then he has to go, too.

Anonymous said...

You are right on point. He should go now for the good of the team and his own good. He will be miserable staying around because he will never again be sucsessfull at UT.

Anonymous said...

I agree Fat Phil should do the honorable thing and announce his retirement as Head Coach today effective at the end of the season and allow the administration to set about interviewing his replacement As a former player I see a top staff of Phil and John Chavis as being hugely oveweight soft leaders. Compare Phil's sideline body language of covering his face with h is hat in embarrassment on game days and pooching out his lips in frustration in contrast to an agressive, arrogant, cocky, self confident young slim coach leading his players at Boise State, Georgia, Florida, LSU, Utah, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, ETC. If we can,t win we ought to look better and sound better losing!!!!