Ladies and Gentleman it is a new day in Tennessee football. I will not sit here and say that I wanted Phillip Fulmer to be the head coach at the University of Tennessee after this season because I did not. I am not numb to what Phillip Fulmer has done at Tennessee but, I am also not blind to his short comings either. Now as in every situation there are two sides to a story and many people will attack Mike Hamilton over the next few weeks with his decision. What people must realize is that there must be a line between professionals and friends, sentiment and business, history and currency. I am a fan that realizes everything that Phillip Fulmer has done for the institution of Tennessee and I deeply appreciate it. I respect Phillip Fulmer to the utmost and truly hope he continues to be a part of Tennessee football in some shape, form, or fashion. Volball reflects.
This is a man who has given thirty years of his life to Tennessee coaching. A man who has bled orange since before I was a thought in my mother’s head. How do you honor such a legend? He is a coach who will undoubtably go down in college football history. There is no question has created a long measuring stick for his predecessor whomever that may be.
Throughout his time at The University of Tennessee he has given Big Orange fans something to cheer about for many fall Saturdays. One hundred and fifty wins, a feat that in my mind is simply amazing. Who knows, maybe one day you will sit in Fulmer Stadium. There is no doubt he has bred some amazing athletes, names like Peyton Manning, Al Davis, and Tee Martin. There can be no value placed on what Phillip Fulmer has done for Tennessee.
Some will go on to say that with six million dollars in his pocket he should be a happy man. Those are the people who do not understand sports and what they give to their participants. It was evident today that Phillip Fulmer’s passion in life was taken from him. No amount of money can ever heal the end of your passion. The man has given the better half of his life to Tennessee football. Most people can’t even say they have been cheering for the same team more than half of their life let alone ate, slept, and dreamt the same team.
Most importantly, what we as Tennessee FANs will never know is what Phillip Fulmer meant to the young athletes that wore the Orange and White. We will never know the lessons, morals, and values that he instilled in his young players. And that Big Orange fans is what you can not put a price on. You can’t put a price on being a mentor to those young kids, being a father figure to young men, and a everlasting figure in their minds. This was something I undoubtedly believe Phillip Fulmer brought to the Tennessee locker room.
But as we look ahead, I personally I can not wait to walk into Neyland Stadium for both the Wyoming and Kentucky football games. I can’t wait to hear Neyland Stadium rockin’ for Phillip Fulmer. To think that I am going to be a part of something some monumental makes me feel truly blessed. I respect Phillip Fulmer and I will be cheering for him harder than ever over the next month for what he has done for myself as a fan and for Tennessee football. And even if I have to pay the big bucks for these last two tickets I undoubtably will shell out the cash.
With today’s events you have to look back at Tennessee football tradition. I consider Tennessee to be one of the most storied and tradition based football programs in the nation. But what we should all realize is tradition didn’t always exist, there is always going to be the element of change. Tennessee fans didn’t always walk into Neyland Stadium, the Vols once called Shields-Watkins Field their home. General Robert Neyland never ran through the “T”. Volunteer legend Reggie White never took a stroll down the Vol Walk. We have to realize we are entering a new era in Tennessee football, some things are going to change, and yet many will remain the same.
So today for myself is bittersweet, and although this is something everyone close to me knows that I wanted this it is still hard. I wanted it in a different way, although I am not sure that way would have ever happened. But, I can tell you that I don’t want to see anything but orange on coach Fulmer. I want him to be a figure at the University of Tennessee until he walks away from sports all together. Maybe I am being selfish but I would be upset to see otherwise.
But, through all this turmoil you can bet on one thing. You can bet your bottom dollar this Volunteer fan will be in Neyland Stadium until the final tick over the next two home games, as I have been all season. I am excited to give my all for Tennessee and our head coach Phillip Fulmer. I have no doubt that the players are going to rise up and give all they have in Coach Fulmer’s remaining three games. I have never wanted to win three games more than I do our next three. I hope everyone will rally around such a great man and great football coach over the next month and say fairwell to a man who is no doubt a statue in Tennessee football history.
Go Vols. Volball Out!