Tennessee's top four all-time best head coaches

#51

West Vol

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#51
Id rather relive that era that at least saw us go to 3 SEC Title games from 01-07 than the disaster of the last decade.
Remember how dismal the 2000 season was? We won 8 games and went to the Cotton Bowl. Now we would kill for 8 wins and a Cotton Bowl invite. Hell an Belk, Outback, Gator....
I might kill for that in a rebuilding year. Not interested in seeing that two seasons removed from an NC, knowing we’d be hanging onto a worthless OC another five years.
 
#52

KBVol

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#52
Majors did not hire Cutcliffe as an offensive coordinator. he was dumb enough to have a Fulmer in that position.
When he promoted Fulmer to the OC spot, the up and down seasons that were the hallmark of Majors’ coaching career at Tennessee stopped and Tennessee went on a 3 year 29-6-2 run, by far his best 3 year record. It was one of the smartest things Majors did.
 
#53

05_never_again

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#53
Might get flamed as being a heretic here, but personally I find Johnny's tenure as HC as overrated. He's still probably the 3rd or 4th best coach in school history, but that's because of a lack of other choices. 1977-84 simply was not all that good and honestly if he coached in the modern age he probably gets fired at some point during those years, especially considering he won a title at Pitt and came in with expectations.

1985-92 was better, but he still only finished in the top 25 six times in 16 years. I think he's remembered as fondly as he is because of what he did as a player.
 
#54

jimed1

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#54
I'll tell you what I remember. In Major's final year when, he was out for heart surgery and Fulmer was acting head coach, UT beat FL, GA (huge upset), and LSU. UT was undefeated at 5-0 when Majors came back to the sideline. UT then lost 3 straight to Arkansas, Alabama, and South Carolina. That year, UT was better than any of those 3 teams and by far better then AR and SC. That sealed the deal.
 
#55

VFL-82-JP

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#55
You could make a case for John Barnhill (1941-1945) in the #3 spot, pushing Majors down to #4 and Dickey to #5.

Yes, he was the WW II fill-in for the General, but he did pretty well on his own those four seasons: 32-5-2 (.846) with a Sugar Bowl victory and a Rose Bowl loss (this is back in the days when just getting to a bowl was still a very big deal). His best year in win rate was the last one (8-1), so he wasn't just riding Neyland's coattails. Man knew how to coach at an elite level.

An 85% win record is pretty darn good. I'd make him my #3, I think.


John Barnhill (American football) - Wikipedia
 
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#56

Pride85

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#56
You don't know your history. Many thought Major's success was due to Fulmer. He was going to land a HC gig and TN couldn't let him go. Majors had become a major alcoholic. Fulmer got a little lazy at the end but he was one of the best for a number of years.
Unfortunately, the alcoholism issue was well established in the mid 80's. Take it from someone who sat through a 20 minute "pep talk" to the band at the end of fall practice that didn't have two coherent sentences in a row. He needed help then.
 
#58

Backwards K

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#58
As a matter of fact, most of us did. You say Fulmer had a terrible run in the 2000s but you apparently forget that the Vols won the SEC East 3 times and tied for 1st in another year during that time frame. Not to mention 7 bowl trips including 2 Cotton, 2 Outback, 2 Peach and one Citrus.

His winning pct from 2000-2008 (76-38 .667) was better than Majors' career winning pct at Tennessee (116-62-8 .645) and career (185-137-10 .563). Plus his recruiting class at the time of his dismissal was the 4th best in the country including QB Tajh Boyd who later started Clemson's resurgence after Kiffin told him to go elsewhere.
 
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#59

West Vol

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#59
I'll tell you what I remember. In Major's final year when, he was out for heart surgery and Fulmer was acting head coach, UT beat FL, GA (huge upset), and LSU. UT was undefeated at 5-0 when Majors came back to the sideline. UT then lost 3 straight to Arkansas, Alabama, and South Carolina. That year, UT was better than any of those 3 teams and by far better then AR and SC. That sealed the deal.
He was done at that point. But looking at the end of a career like that isn't all that telling. If you just look at 2008 to 2009, it doesn't paint Fulmer in a very good light. Johnny had a decent overall career. It kind of sucks to have the transition be somewhat hostile like that, but if we'd let him go until he decided to retire, the program likely gets run into the ground. Nobody wants to hear it, but that's what was happening in the late 2000s with Phil. It was his time to go.
 
#60

West Vol

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#60
As a matter of fact, most of us did. You say Fulmer had a terrible run in the 2000s but you apparently forget that the Vols won the SEC East 3 times and tied for 1st in another year during that time frame. Not to mention 7 bowl trips including 2 Cotton, 2 Outback, 2 Peach and one Citrus.

His winning pct from 2000-2008 (76-38 .667) was better than Majors' career winning pct at Tennessee (116-62-8 .645) and career (185-137-10 .563).
It was terrible considering where we were positioned to start the decade. We were firmly established on top of the conference with Florida. Then, almost immediately, Spurrier retires and they replace him with a doofus. It was a dream scenario and we blew it.
 
#61

XknoxvolsX

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#61
You’re really blaming Fulmer for where the program is? How about Mike Hamilton? Lane Kiffin? Derek Dooley? Butch Jones? But no let’s blame the guy who won us our most recent national championship and conference championship and was fired after two losing years in 16 seasons
Two losing seasons in four years! Do/did you not see a trend? If he had not ran the program down into the ground, do you think Hamilton or any other Athletic Director would have fired him?

Hamilton wasn't wrong for firing him. It was the next two hires leading into Butch Jones that did him in.
 
#62

XknoxvolsX

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#62
Fulmer did not run the program into the ground. Jeez where does this stuff come from? Mike Hamilton and admins along with some boosters are to blame not CPF.
Had he not had two losing seasons in his last four seasons, I doubt he would have been fired! What do you think? Would you have kept a losing coach? Would you have kept Dooley? Jones?
 
#65

05_never_again

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#65
As a matter of fact, most of us did. You say Fulmer had a terrible run in the 2000s but you apparently forget that the Vols won the SEC East 3 times and tied for 1st in another year during that time frame. Not to mention 7 bowl trips including 2 Cotton, 2 Outback, 2 Peach and one Citrus.

His winning pct from 2000-2008 (76-38 .667) was better than Majors' career winning pct at Tennessee (116-62-8 .645) and career (185-137-10 .563). Plus his recruiting class at the time of his dismissal was the 4th best in the country including QB Tajh Boyd who later started Clemson's resurgence after Kiffin told him to go elsewhere.
Yep. Majors is overrated as a HC, IMO. You can split both Phil and Johnny's tenures into two roughly equal pieces, with one piece being a lot better than the other. Johnny's second half was better than his first. Phil's first half was better than his second. However, Phil's better half was much better than Johnny's better half.

I put the line of demarcation for Phil after 2001. From 1993 to 2001 (starting with Phil's first full season) Tennessee was 91-20 (59-13) with 2 conference titles, 3 division titles, and a national title. That level of success was surpassed by only few other programs in the country at that time (Nebraska, Florida, FSU?). In particular the 1995-1998 period was successful: 45-5 (29-3) and ended the season #3, #9, #7, and #1 in the AP Poll. Those marks only seem unimpressive when you compare it to someone like Saban. This far surpassed anything Johnny did from 1985-92.

Phil's "bad" period, in hindsight, wasn't so awful: 57-32 (35-21). We were actually winning almost 2/3rds of our conference games then. IMO, what did him in wasn't his overall record but it was his record against Florida, Georgia, and Alabama from 2002-08. He went 8-13 against those teams over a 7 year term, which just isn't good enough.
 
#66

PEPPERJAX

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#66
Every 2 or 3 years... Never ceases to amaze me having lived through it. Seems to me the discussion should be based on results, not warm feelings. The man's life-time winning percentage is .575. 4-12 versus Bama. Had a worse record than Butch Jones first 5 years (and Battle didn't destroy the program any more than the end of CPF, Kiffin and Dooley - though I will absolutely agree CBJ left the program in much worse shape). Averaged 4 losses a year, and not just because of 1 or 2 bad years. Completely inconsistent, up and down. Maybe he set up Fulmer, but Fulmer's best stretch started in '95, 3.5 years later. '96 and on was all the recruiting of CPF's staff. How long do you get to take credit for other people's success? And today nobody would tolerate taking 9 years for a conference championship and call it 12 years to finally "set the program up." The data doesn't lie - '76 was the aberration. Great player, colorful personality, not a great coach.
Majors had a lot leeway because he came in with a national championship ring on his finger & was a Vol legend. You're correct, UTAD/fans would not tolerate the length of the rebuild if he were coaching now. Major's did have three SEC titles though and pretty much averaged one about every five years.
 
#67

05_never_again

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#67
Majors had a lot leeway because he came in with a national championship ring on his finger & was a Vol legend. You're correct, UTAD/fans would not tolerate the length of the rebuild if he were coaching now. Major's did have three SEC titles though and pretty much averaged one about every five years.
If Johnny were coaching in the modern era, he wouldn't have lasted beyond his 4th season. He'd get a gimmie in year 1 (4-7), improved incrementally in year 2 (5-5-1), improved incrementally again in year 3 and went bowling (7-5), then regressed in year 4 (5-6). The longer he stayed, the fact that he won a title at another school would actually add heat to his seat.
 
#68

BigBadVol

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#68
Had he not had two losing seasons in his last four seasons, I doubt he would have been fired! What do you think? Would you have kept a losing coach? Would you have kept Dooley? Jones?
Without the losing seasons, he would still be the coach here. But he was fired and we’ve seen how that turned out!
 
#69

bamawriter

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#69
I'll tell you what I remember. In Major's final year when, he was out for heart surgery and Fulmer was acting head coach, UT beat FL, GA (huge upset), and LSU. UT was undefeated at 5-0 when Majors came back to the sideline. UT then lost 3 straight to Arkansas, Alabama, and South Carolina. That year, UT was better than any of those 3 teams and by far better then AR and SC. That sealed the deal.
You think UT was better than Bama in '92? The Bama team that went 13-0 and won the national championship?
 
#70

PEPPERJAX

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#70
If Johnny were coaching in the modern era, he wouldn't have lasted beyond his 4th season. He'd get a gimmie in year 1 (4-7), improved incrementally in year 2 (5-5-1), improved incrementally again in year 3 and went bowling (7-5), then regressed in year 4 (5-6). The longer he stayed, the fact that he won a title at another school would actually add heat to his seat.
Yeah but apparently it didn't because he lasted almost 16 seasons.
 
#71

Woke

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#71
Neyland....... then huge gap behind him.....

IMO--Dickey had better FB IQ than Majors--who had a higher FB IQ than Fulmer--and not trying to disrespect CPF.
Fulmer had Cut---and the best thing to happen to both of them was Peyton Manning and his recruiting prowess as a player.

I am convinced that the trajectory of the program under Dickey as HC thru the 70s and 80s would've been MUCH HIGHER.
My thoughts exactly! Fulmer chose Cut bc Archie chose Cut to tutor Peyton. And Peyton was 100% the recruiting magnet that built Fulmer’s NC team. When the residual Peyton Manning recruiting effect died out after Fulmer’s 2001 SECCG meltdown the handwriting was on the wall. We have never been the same.

I wonder how many Vol fans realize it was really Peyton Manning all along? Or how far we started to slip in Fulmer’s final years and just how much Pruitt has to rebuild here.

This is the best coaching staff we’ve ever had on the Hill top to bottom IMO. Eager to see what they can do and how fast they can turn it around.
 
#74

SmilezDavis

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#74
My thoughts exactly! Fulmer chose Cut bc Archie chose Cut to tutor Peyton. And Peyton was 100% the recruiting magnet that built Fulmer’s NC team. When the residual Peyton Manning recruiting effect died out after Fulmer’s 2001 SECCG meltdown the handwriting was on the wall. We have never been the same.

I wonder how many Vol fans realize it was really Peyton Manning all along? Or how far we started to slip in Fulmer’s final years and just how much Pruitt has to rebuild here.

This is the best coaching staff we’ve ever had on the Hill top to bottom IMO. Eager to see what they can do and how fast they can turn it around.
Say no to drugs.
 
#75

West Vol

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#75
My thoughts exactly! Fulmer chose Cut bc Archie chose Cut to tutor Peyton. And Peyton was 100% the recruiting magnet that built Fulmer’s NC team. When the residual Peyton Manning recruiting effect died out after Fulmer’s 2001 SECCG meltdown the handwriting was on the wall. We have never been the same.

I wonder how many Vol fans realize it was really Peyton Manning all along? Or how far we started to slip in Fulmer’s final years and just how much Pruitt has to rebuild here.

This is the best coaching staff we’ve ever had on the Hill top to bottom IMO. Eager to see what they can do and how fast they can turn it around.
Fulmer was well-established as an elite recruiter prior to Manning.
 

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