FreakNotes: Sunday recap as the coaching search resets

© John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to believe it was only one week ago today that the Greg Schiano news broke. So much has happened since then, it seems like a work of fiction. But the coaching search resets this weekend as Tennessee named Phillip Fulmer as athletics director on Friday.

Here’s a recap of a few things you might have missed.

  • I laughed when I saw Greg Schiano referred to as “former future Tennessee head coach.” We have to laugh to keep from crying, right?
  • Strong words from ESPN’s Chris Low yesterday on Phillip Fulmer.
    • “My stock answer for how it’s all gone so downhill for Tennessee is simply this: Once the new head football coach is hired, that will make it 16 different presidents, chancellors, ADs and head football coaches for Tennessee over the last decade. Zero stability.”
    • “I’ve said every step of the way that bringing Phillip Fulmer back as AD was the best thing Tennessee could do. Nobody cares about the university more than he does. He will hire who he thinks is the best coach for UT and won’t care what you, me or any influential donor thinks.”
  • Could there still be something between Tennessee and Washington State head coach Mike Leach? Under Fulmer’s leadership, most say no, but Trey Wallace disagrees. “Mike Leach to Tennessee is not dead, there is still life to that possibility. We will see how things play out.”
  • Something I learned this week that stuck with me: How was John Currie the leagues highest paid athletics director? And how does he have a buyout that’s estimated in the $5 million range? Hopefully Tennessee fires him with cause and that lofty buyout is avoided.
  • If you somehow missed Clay Travis on periscope Friday, I suggest you watch this video. Seriously, go watch it.
  • Fulmer reached out to former LSU coachLes Miles on Saturday. Multiple reports surfaced in the last week that Miles had interest in the Tennessee job but Tennessee wouldn’t take his calls. In response to the news, Miles texted The Advocate in response to the report: “No real news!!” it said. There’s also word that Tee Martin might be interested in a return to Knoxville as offensive coordinator under Miles.
  • Fulmer began working the phones yesterday, calling Tennessee commitments. He’s also taken the NCAA recruiting test, according to Volquest, which allows him to visit recruits. Fulmer told at least one recruit that he expects to make a coaching hire before next weekend.
  • Fulmer told five-star Tennessee lineman Cade Mays that he’ll do everything he can to make sure he ends up back with Tennessee.
  • As is to be expected, other schools are reaching out to Tennessee commits, including both of the class of 2018 quarterback commits. Dan Mullen has reached out to Michael Penix, and Adrian Martinez has been offered by Nebraska.
  • I know we’re all involved in the football drama, but don’t forget the Tennessee basketball team plays Georgia Tech tonight at 6 p.m. on ESPNU [game thread]. and the Lady Vols face Alabama State this afternoon at 2 p.m. [game thread]

A few notes from Doug Matthews this morning on Big Orange Sunday:

    • After the Schiano ordeal, coaches weren’t going to trust John Currie. Coaches were calling Bill Snyder at Kansas State about Currie. Tennessee had absolutely no choice but to cut him loose, and whether you love him or hate him, Phillip Fulmer was the only person to turn to.
    • Fulmer has 32 years invested in Tennessee as a player, assistant coach, and head coach.
    • Fulmer would never consider hiring Lane Kiffin.
    • Before taking the AD job, Fulmer was talking about the fact that six (maybe seven) of the eight SEC teams Tennessee lost to this year were coached by defensive head coaches (physically aggressive). Expect Fulmer to take a hard look at guys with experience on tha side of the ball. [discussion: Mathews: Expect Fulmer to hire a defense guy as head coach ]
    • We’re going to see the University of Tennessee represented by folks from Tennessee.
    • This is going to be a much more attractive job than people think it is. It’s not as dire as some like to insinuate. Most of the national guys have no idea what they’re talking about in this regard.
    • Fulmer will run this thing similar to how Doug Dickey did it.
    • Phillip has 100% control up there right now. No doubt about that. He wouldn’t have taken the job otherwise.
    • There’s no reason to be in any hurry. As long as we have a coach in place by December 10th, recruiting will not be a problem. We should be able to hold on to the majority of our commitments.
    • Fulmer will hire someone who wants to be at Tennessee and will embrace our traditions.
    •  There is no bad blood between Fulmer and Peyton Manning: fact.
    • The rumors of Fulmer undermining Currie and sabotaging the search are false. It’s a bunch of bunk and anyone saying it doesn’t know what they’re talking about. John Currie got John Currie fired.
    • Fulmer didn’t get Majors fired, either. Like Currie, Majors was responsible for his own demise.
    • The rumored two-year deal for Fulmer is false. No coach would come work here if that were the case. He will be there as long as he wants to be. Fulmer wouldn’t have taken an interim position.
    • Fulmer isn’t going to hire any coach in waiting.
    • It’s a good day, the big orange sun rose this morning and we’re moving forward.
    • <end Matthews’ comments>


  • Go Vols! Have hit rock bottom and on the rise again. We will be champions again nd hopefully not too far down the road.

  • matthews expects Fulmer to hire a defensive-oriented head coach.

    Seems that would exclude Les Miles, wouldn’t it?

  • Thank you for the FreakNotes, Freak.

    By all appearances, Tennessee is moving forward with strength and stability.

  • If you have seen Les miles teams…. Miles is a defense focused coach…. Yes I know he isn’t a defensive coach

  • well, it seems we’ve crawled around enough…now let’s do some running…thanks Freak, and

    GO AD FULMER AND GO VOLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Very Good Stuff; VF. And , Encouraging. I especially like the part about Phil having Total Control. Tennessee needs Tennessee People in Charge! Pretty simple but hard for some to get; evidently. Brighter Days Ahead!

  • Thanks Freak. I needed a rational read instead of rummaging through countless threads full of he said, she said. Thanks, again!!!

  • I have been desperate for a breath of fresh air. With your truthful write up and Fulmer in charge I feel that air. I really liked the part about Dickey, but would much prefer Woodruff style when we won All Sports or were close every year.

  • Nice work, appreciate the insight, after Tennessee spends millions for the show produced by Currie since Butch’s firing, we may need a new reporting structure for the ADs at each Tennessee school, reporting to the University’s President and quarterly reporting to one of the state’s auditors, there is way too much money and financial risk in big time college athletics, as we are about the learn a hard lesson in.

    In my opinion, Chancellor Davenport does not inspire any confidence or any grasp of these issues affecting large southern schools with comprehensive Power 5 athletic conference participation and the levels of leadership required to be competitive in those conferences. Leaves me to wonder what she has for college deans and professors at the campus there in Knoxville.

  • Stupid question? Are the Freaknotes by Freak, or the Matthews dude in the ? & are these opinions or strongly evidence-based statements?

    Regardless, I’m buoyed by recent happenings. I hope, but also think we may be on the road to stability.

    • I (Freak) write the FreakNotes. The comments from the radio shows from guys like Matthews and Low are transcribed/summarized by me.

      I can’t speak on the basis for their statements, be it opinion or evidence-based, however.

      Thanks for the comment.

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