DESTIN, Fla. — Phillip Fulmer likes the momentum that has been built in the Tennessee athletic department since he was hired as athletic director on Dec. 1.
But the first-ballot College Football Hall of Fame coach isn’t kidding himself.
“Until football is truly fixed, it’s not where it needs to be,” Fulmer said on Tuesday at the SEC Spring Meetings in Destin, Fla. “But we’re in a good place right now, we’ve got some momentum.”
Fulmer pointed out the Vols have had nine of their 13 spring sports ranked in the top 25, and Tennessee is “looking forward, not back.”
Perhaps the most important development since Fulmer hired football coach Jeremy Pruitt on Dec. 7 is how the two have bonded.
“We agreed on the front end, there’s no eggshells, he can say anything he needs to me — and he has,” Fulmer said on the SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum Show.
Fulmer has been an occasional observer at the Tennessee football practices, just like former Vols athletic director Doug Dickey was during Fulmer’s era as coach.
“It would be silly not to use some of my experience,’ Fulmer explained. “If I see something on the practice field I’ll make a note and we’ll talk about it eventually, and he’ll do the same thing for me.”
Tennessee fans have taken quickly to Fulmer. The autograph lines for him on the five-city Big Orange Caravan tour were as long for Fulmer as they were for the Vols head coaches.
“They know I’m a Tennessean through and through, and that’s what they were looking for in a leader,” Fulmer said. “I feel like I did in 1993 when I took over the football program. It’s a great challenge.
“I’m invigorated by this opportunity, and I love the people I’m working with. Now, it’s getting everyone on the same page and getting the culture right.”
Some administrators twist and squirm in front of cameras — #Vols AD Phillip Fulmer made himself right at home with Paul Finebaum at SEC Spring Meetings, saying he’s “invigorated” with new role and feels Tennessee sports has momentum pic.twitter.com/twPAa2V7tx
— Mike Griffith (@MikeGriffith32) May 29, 2018