Top 5 All Time Vol Coaches

Sarms58

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Fulmer owes everything to Majors leaving him a finely tuned sports car of a program and to Cutcliffe for driving it for him for awhile. Once Cutcliffe left and Fulmer had to drive it himself, we ended up upside down in a ditch...twice.
It's an interwoven...Fulmer was a key player in building that finely tunes sports car and then he took it to levels that Majors was never able to achieve. Both of them were control freaks and it played a roll in both their downfalls.
 

VOLINVONORE

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But as I already inconveniently pointed out, Majors took over a dumpster fire. Fulmer took over a program that was already one of the SEC's best and had won the SEC three out of the previous seven seasons. Majors winning percentage also improved as time went on, the way you'd expect a coach building a program to do, Fulmer's declined steadily.
We had offense and defensive linemen who weighed less than 200 lbs. I still remember when Majors addressed the Big Orange Club in Atlanta before his first game as our coach, he said "we are not very big, but we are slow". Turns out, he was very accurate in his evaluation. That may have been the least talented team I can remember at Tennessee since I started watching them in 1945.
 
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GregAmsler

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Why does Cutcliffe get so much credit for Fulmer's success yet Fulmer gets 0 credit for Majors'? Fulmer could've very easily cleaned house when he was promoted, but he didn't. Disregarding Fulmer's contributions as an assistant yet putting Cutcliffe's on such a pedestal is mindboggling.
A) Why would Fulmer have cleaned house? Majors left him one of the best QB/offensive minds in America.
B) Cutcliffe isn’t being compared as a head coach to Fulmer or Majors.
C) Fulmer didn’t hire Cutcliffe. Fulmer’s first staff was all Majors assistants. Another gift he inherited from Majors. When Fulmer had to replace Cutcliffe, he failed. Twice.

You bring up more evidence to support my point…Fulmer could not have built a program from the ground up the way Majors did. Without a great staff that Majors hired, there’s little evidence to support the notion that Fulmer would have hired his own great staff. That was a huge weakness of his.
 

whobethis16

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A) Why would Fulmer have cleaned house? Majors left him one of the best QB/offensive minds in America.
B) Cutcliffe isn’t being compared as a head coach to Fulmer or Majors.
C) Fulmer didn’t hire Cutcliffe. Fulmer’s first staff was all Majors assistants. Another gift he inherited from Majors. When Fulmer had to replace Cutcliffe, he failed. Twice.

You bring up more evidence to support my point…Fulmer could not have built a program from the ground up the way Majors did. Without a great staff that Majors hired, there’s little evidence to support the notion that Fulmer would have hired his own great staff. That was a huge weakness of his.
There are more coaches than just those 3 positions. Fulmer has a very solid record of hiring assistants.

And by the way, Sanders has that nearly 70% winning percentage. That's not "failing". Just because it's not video game-esque success doesn't mean it's a failure.

And Clawson's success after the first 1-2 years of implementation shows the hire itself was not bad, but the lack of patience from the fanbase is detrimental.
 
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VFL-82-JP

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Fulmer didn’t hire Cutcliffe. Fulmer’s first staff was all Majors assistants. Another gift he inherited from Majors. When Fulmer had to replace Cutcliffe, he failed. Twice.

You bring up more evidence to support my point…Fulmer could not have built a program from the ground up the way Majors did. Without a great staff that Majors hired, there’s little evidence to support the notion that Fulmer would have hired his own great staff. That was a huge weakness of his.
Greg, I don't think we know who truly hired Cut when he first came to Tennessee.

Yes, Johnny Majors was the head coach, and the head coach ultimately decides on every hire. But that's not the real question.

The real question is, did Fulmer (or another assistant coach) identify Cut and tell Majors about him, talk him into giving Cut a chance? Or did Johnny recognize the man's talent himself?

And more generally, how much autonomy did Majors give his two coordinators? Significantly, the year Cut was first hired, Johnny was between OCs; Bill Pace had retired at the end of the previous season, and Majors wouldn't bring in Walt Harris until '83. So Majors was his own OC in '82.

I would honestly love to read any source on this question. Do you know if any such account exists in print?
 
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Backwards K

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But as I already inconveniently pointed out, Majors took over a dumpster fire. Fulmer took over a program that was already one of the SEC's best and had won the SEC three out of the previous seven seasons. Majors winning percentage also improved as time went on, the way you'd expect a coach building a program to do, Fulmer's declined steadily.
Declined steadily? A 70% winning pct in the time frame you pointed out, is not a steady decline. Guess you just got spoiled and thought anyone could win at Tennessee at that level or better.
 

WestTennVol

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CPF may arguably be the best recruiter of his Era. Sure he's swung and missed on a few. What coach doesn't. I'd like to think that Majors teams were flush of talent because of guys Fulmer landed as an as. coach.
 
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VFL-82-JP

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Not sure what else you call this:

1993-98, 63-11, .851
1999-03, 46-17 .730
2004-08, 39-24 .619
Yet again, you make the point of how good Fulmer was.

Even in the worst of those three periods, '04-'08, he took the Vols to Atlanta to play for the SEC championship. And not just once. Twice.

We had two 10-win seasons in that "worst period."

Even Phillip Fulmer's very worst, the worst you can throw at him, is head and shoulders above anything we've had since. And rivals the best of Johnny Majors' tenure...and Majors is our third-best coach ever.

You keep trying to talk Fulmer down, but keep highlighting him instead.
 

utfantilidie

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I guess I can say I like em both as long as they put up the W’s. As long as I traveled three hours one way to see the greatest school in football play and it was fun every time, that’s what I remember. Majors brother Bill billing killed in Knoxville by train and younger brother Bobby playing always drew me to big John. I guess his daddy was coaching as well for quite a while. I think my facts are all on point here or fairly close.
 

Orange12

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Wyatt?
Wyatt???

The same Wyatt who drove Neyland's proud program into the mud?

The same Wyatt who sent Steve Spurrier away? Spurrier grew up an adoring Vols fan. Genius Wyatt refused to change his flagging single wing offense to accommodate a passing strong Spurrier.

In addition to all that Bowdens out of control drinking was the nail in the coffin for his career in Knoxville.

You had Wyatt #3?


I agree. The same Wyatt that only won more than 6 games at UT twice??!!
 

wmcovol

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As much as I liked Majors, I doubt he’d ever been able to win a NC here.I’d say

1. Neyland
2. Fulmer
3. Dickey
4. Majors
5. Wyatt.
 
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While I’m certainly a fan of history (especially as I get older), it’s time to move forward and get behind our team this year.

Tennessee has a storied legacy of former coaches and players… I’m hoping to celebrate many more in the years ahead. Go VOLS!
 
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dduncan4163

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Not sure what else you call this:

1993-98, 63-11, .851
1999-03, 46-17 .730
2004-08, 39-24 .619
I don't get how people forgot. Phil was let go for a reason. Just because we've struck out with hires doesn't mean that Hamiltion didn't make the right decision. We were back sliding into mediocrity. He got lazy on the recruiting trail and once Cut took off for a second time the writing was on the wall.

That 2008 UCLA game was the moment I knew he needed to go.
 

njvols

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I'd put Fulmer 3rd, which is fantastic for a program like Tennessee. I'm not saying he didn't do anything. I'm saying why Majors' performance was more impressive. Everything doesn't have to be in the extremes.

Let's put it this way:

1) Imagine a 42 year-old Majors (the age he was in 1977) takes over a Tennessee program that was in the shape it was in in 1993. No having to build from the bottom, no awful facilities, no dearth of talent. He takes over a program with a Heisman contender at QB, loads of future NFL talent, and coming off of 4 straight NY's Day bowls and 2 SEC championships in the last 4 years. How well do you think Majors performs? How much better is his record? How many SEC titles does he win? What are the odds he wins a National Title? More than one?

2) Now imagine a 42 year-old Fulmer (the age he was in 1993) takes over a Tennessee program that was in the shape it was in in 1977. Bottom level facilities, a dearth of talent, etc. What are the odds Fulmer takes THAT program and builds it to a top 10 caliber program, much less wins SEC and National Titles?

I think the odds of Majors taking an elite program and doing as well or better than Fulmer did with it is much greater than Fulmer taking a downtrodden program and building it as well as Majors did. I think Fulmer would've failed at that endeavor and Majors would have succeeded. That's why I put Majors ahead of him. Not because I think what Fulmer did was nothing...it most certainly wasn't.
All of these coaches were great in their time and era just like I hope same will be said about JH. But just as fans were restless with fulmer and his last years, it seems I recall having some of the same thoughts about Majors towards the end and remember being excited about a new day with fulmer.
 

DOCTORLOOMIS

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Some haters go waaaaay out of their way to 'splain why Phillip Fulmer is a nobody who happened to be in the right seat when the Vols won a national title. It was all Johnny Majors and David Cutcliffe who won it, Fulmer was simply there to collect the accolades.

Utter horse poop.

Give the man his due. You don't win a national title and two SEC titles, as well as 152 football games (at a win rate of 75%) unless you've got it going on.

Fulmer absolutely the 2nd best head football coach we've ever had.

break/break

The guy who is getting short shrift is John Barnhill.

Robert Neyland took two sabbaticals from coaching the Vols in his career. The first was only a single year, while he was deployed by the Army down to Panama. In that year he was gone, the Vols fell hard to a losing season (4-5). Fell so hard that it took Neyland two recovery years (6-2-2 followed by 6-3-1) before he was back to 10- and 11-win seasons.

But get this: Neyland's other break was for five years, during World War II. The guy who filled in for him, John Barnhill, just did this:
8-2-0
9-1-1
(didn't play football in 1943)
7-1-1
8-1-0

If I remember right, that puts John Barnhill at the pinnacle of Tennessee head football coaches, measured by winning percentage. Yep. Better even than the General.

If there's one coach in Vols' history that we under-appreciate, John Barnhill is the fella.

Go Vols!
I respectfully disagree. When you take a team that had the greatest QB that will ever play here….combined with countless NFL draft picks…and all you have to show for those 4 years are a couple of Citrus Bowl wins and a blow out loss to Nebraska…combined with 4 consecutive losses to a Florida team that you have out talented….and a loss to Memphis State when you’re ranked #4 in America…that says it all about his coaching prowess. As for the Natty, never ever forget we were beat by Arkansas until the football gods bailed Fulmer out of yet another disastrous loss…and we were of course behind to an incredibly out talented Miss State team until Tee Martin pulled the rabbit out of the hat. And finally it took everything we had to beat a 3rd string QB for all the marbles in Tempe. The facts are we had great players, great talent, and we were able to overcome being out coached almost every weekend. Thats the hard truth some refuse to admit. Finally when the players stopped coming Fulmer could no longer out talent teams and the losses piled up. Homecoming vs Wyoming was simply the nail in the coffin.
 

whobethis16

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I don't get how people forgot. Phil was let go for a reason. Just because we've struck out with hires doesn't mean that Hamiltion didn't make the right decision. We were back sliding into mediocrity. He got lazy on the recruiting trail and once Cut took off for a second time the writing was on the wall.

That 2008 UCLA game was the moment I knew he needed to go.
And 15 years later we're begging for consistent mediocrity.
 

whobethis16

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I respectfully disagree. When you take a team that had the greatest QB that will ever play here….combined with countless NFL draft picks…and all you have to show for those 4 years are a couple of Citrus Bowl wins and a blow out loss to Nebraska…combined with 4 consecutive losses to a Florida team that you have out talented….and a loss to Memphis State when you’re ranked #4 in America…that says it all about his coaching prowess. As for the Natty, never ever forget we were beat by Arkansas until the football gods bailed Fulmer out of yet another disastrous loss…and we were of course behind to an incredibly out talented Miss State team until Tee Martin pulled the rabbit out of the hat. And finally it took everything we had to beat a 3rd string QB for all the marbles in Tempe. The facts are we had great players, great talent, and we were able to overcome being out coached almost every weekend. Thats the hard truth some refuse to admit. Finally when the players stopped coming Fulmer could no longer out talent teams and the losses piled up. Homecoming vs Wyoming was simply the nail in the coffin.
1. That Nebraska team had 5 All-Americans (3 1st, 1 2nd, 1 3rd), the Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy winners, Big 12 Male Athlete of the Year, 8 All Big 12 1st teamers, and 27 players that played for NFL teams. That team was absolutely stacked and whipped everyone but Mizzou and Colorado.
2. Memphis was a bad loss, but you blame Fulmer so much, but not Manning for his 2 picks, 1 nearly a pick-six (scored on next play from the 1), and 1 in the endzone that would've put Tennessee up 21-14.
3. Arkansas was #10 in the country, and one of only 6 undefeated teams and playing for the same season success Tennessee was at that point. They were no slouch.
4. Mississippi State was playing in the SECCG for a reason. Do you think the 2007 LSU team talks that bad about their own team for squeaking by Tennessee in that SECCG?
5. Wyoming wouldn't have happened if Fulmer wasn't fired the Sunday before.
 

Brave Volunteer

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I do too. But that wasn’t my point.

Fulmer doesn’t win a NC in 1998 without the ground work Majors did. There’s zero evidence to suggest he was capable of building a program from the ground up. He couldn’t even maintain the elite one he had handed to him. What Majors did was more impressive.
Horseshit. Not ONE player on that 1998 team was a Majors recruit. Winning in 98 had zero to do with Majors up to 1990. The whole "laid the foundation" expression is so overused. That was Fulmer's program by 1998. You can't take that away from him because of a coach who was there 8 years prior.
 
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GregAmsler

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Horseshit. Not ONE player on that 1998 team was a Majors recruit. Winning in 98 had zero to do with Majors up to 1990. The whole "laid the foundation" expression is so overused. That was Fulmer's program by 1998. You can't take that away from him because of a coach who was there 8 years prior.
I guess you'd rather sell a 4-win program than a perennial 9-10 win program that had been to 4 consecutive NY's bowls and won 2 SEC championships in the prior 4 years.

Obviously, no Majors recruit was on the 1998 team. Didn't say or insinuate that it was. But because Majors left a loaded program in 1993, Fulmer didn't have very far to go to get to a NC in 1998. If you think he could've taken the program that Majors inherited and built that to a NC, then your use of the term horseshit is ironic. He couldn't even maintain it and left it at 5-7 in 2008 (his 2nd losing season in his last 4).
 

LAVol1

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I don't get how people forgot. Phil was let go for a reason. .
The Bear had back to back losing records in the SEC in '69 and '70 (Fulmer had only two losing records in the SEC). Bama fans were screaming for him to be fired. Cooler heads prevailed and he turned it around, with 10+ wins in 9 of the next 10 years and 3 more nat'l championships. Bobby Bowden had a bad stretch fin the mid-80's but turned it around. Joe Pa, even with a powder puff schedule, had some bad stretches in his career but turned it around. Fulmer was not given the opportunity to turn it around. Hamilton over-reacted and that's why we had 15 years in purgatory. There is no way the Volunteer program would not have been on better footing had we stuck with Fulmer for at least 2 more years to see if he could turn it around. I think Clausen would have had the offense humming the next year had we stuck with Fulmer.
 
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BanditVol

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Let Fulmer teams play a 6 game SEC schedule that always included Vandy, Kentucky and Ole Miss in addition to Alabama and Auburn. Majors led teams have winning records against only Vandy, Kentucky and Ole Miss plus LSU. Almost every 8-3 or 9-2 season was followed immediately by a 6-5, 5-6 year. Losing records against every other team in the conference. 85 Sugar Bowl and a miracle in South Bend don't trump a Natty and the SEC championships that Fulmer led teams played in.

I didn't agree with the way either coach was shown the door, but with 20-40 years of hindsight, Fulmer's teams were just better. The coaching staff continuity was better and the recruiting was better. Majors was more entertaining on his post game show.
x2, absolutely. Anyone who lived through the Majors years knows this. Or should.
 

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