Part 8: The oral history of the Tennessee coaching search

Tennessee AD Phillip Fulmer with Jeremy Pruitt
Calvin Mattheis/Knoxville News Sentinel via USA TODAY NETWORK

Abraham: Given all the hurt and terrible decisions from the UT administration over the last 10 years, I’m not surprised at all. The fan base is fed up and they should be. You can only push a person so far, and Tennessee fans have been pushed far enough. An uprising needed to happen. We’ve got to keep fighting to take program back from those who are doing it harm. We stopped a hire dead in its tracks, but our work is not done. We must put Tennessee heart and soul back into this football program. Demand it and do not compromise. As General Neyland said, take the fight to your opponent and keep it there.

Withrow: Tennessee fans sent a message that if high-paid administrators and boosters continually make awful decisions for a decade, eventually the fans are going to snap. I have no issue with Tennessee fans voicing their displeasure over the hire. I have no problem with fans that have a legitimate issue with hiring a guy whose name (rightly or wrongly) is associated with the Sandusky mess. I do have a problem with fans that hated the hire from a football standpoint that falsely used the Sandusky stuff as a sword to chop the head off the guy. And I believe those fans existed as well.

Roach: The reaction was exactly what I hoped for but absolutely didn’t expect. I was used to seeing our fan base take horrific hire after horrific hire and suffer through a minimum of four to five years.

Curtis: I knew the hiring wouldn’t be received well because I didn’t like it myself. But the way we all came together to stop something that honestly could have hindered the school not only on a football side of things but also on a moral side as well was something I was proud of.

Faison: I think what we did was noble and once in a lifetime, and it was a beautiful thing that the entirety of the Rocky Top fan base got together and stopped something.

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Ramey: If Alabama, Ohio State, Florida, you name the school, had been through a decade like Tennessee has been through and had watched multiple chancellors and multiple athletic directors try and fail to hire a good football coach … those fan bases would’ve reacted the exact same way, I think. The situation is unique because of the passion of the Tennessee fan base combined with the unprecedented struggles of the Tennessee football program over the last 10 years. And those fans decided enough was enough. Tough to blame them.

Warren: Were fans a little quick to latch on to Schiano’s Penn State issues, especially when very few people know his true level of involvement? Probably. But it wasn’t just that – it was about (Schiano) leaking Josh Freeman’s personal information to Tampa Bay press. It was about staph infections, diving at knees, former players hating him. It was about Mike Hamilton, Dave Hart and now Currie. It was about Jones, Dooley, Kiffin, Tyndall, (former basketball coach) Cuonzo (Martin), athletics on a major downslide, national embarrassments like the Title IX fiasco and butt-chugging, etc. This wasn’t just one variable; it was 50. People were not going to take this from the university for one more day.

(You can follow Mark Nagi on Twitter @MarkNagi)

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