KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer reflected on the head coaching hiring process and looked forward into the Vols’ football future with former quarterback Erik Ainge.
Both takes on WNML’s Erik Ainge show on Monday were interesting.
Fulmer pointed to Tennessee’s 30-10 loss to LSU last season — the style of game, not the final score — as to what he envisions the Vols’ style looking like under first-year head coach Jeremy Pruitt, in terms of playing complimentary football.
Tennessee actually outgained the Tigers in the loss, 287-281, and there were positives from which to draw.
“I’ll take last year’s LSU game, LSU is probably clearly better than us, but we managed the clock, we stayed in the huddle, we ran 59 plays, I think they ran 56 plays,” Fulmer said, talking about a game the Vols trailed 17-10 at the half. “If we don’t muff those two punts, we have a chance to win the game at the end against a team that’s better than us, because we played hard and we didn’t give up big plays. You can win ball games that way.
“That’s probably going to be us for a couple of years until we get on our feet with all the personnel we want to have. We don’t look like those other teams yet, the Georgias … ”
Fulmer hired Pruitt because he likes the “laser focus” the 43-year-old Alabama coaching prodigy has exhibited, in the interview process, and now since being hired on Dec. 7.
It’s why Pruitt was able to get through the layers of interviews needed to become head coach at Tennessee, while many other candidates didn’t get more than a phone call.
“The clock was ticking with the coaches out there, so we got on our horse and rode it really hard for about six days to get the pool we wanted to choose from,” Fulmer said. “There was coordinators at big schools in the conference … outside the conference, and head coaches around the country that we had a chance to talk to and interview.
“It started from the phone and worked itself down to actual interviews and then second interviews,” he said. “Jeremy was passionate, had a great plan and it came through that he was a football coach. He was laser-focused on football and laser-focused on recruiting.”
SEC Country analyst Mike Griffith and WNML’s Josh Ward discussed Fulmer’s take on Tennessee football and Jauan Jennings, along with taking a look at Tuesday night’s basketball game with Vanderbilt.