Tennessee Team News

Phillip Fulmer: Butch Jones inherited an ‘absolute total mess’ at Tennessee

Phillip Fulmer
USA TODAY Sports

Former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer doesn’t think current Volunteers coach Butch Jones began his coaching career at the school with a good starting point.

Fulmer recently said on WNML’s “Sports 180” in Knoxville, Tennessee that Jones inherited an “absolute total mess” when he took the Tennessee coaching job in 2013.

“… with what happened with me, and then (Lane) Kiffin and then (Derek) Dooley, the athletic director, the presidents,” Fulmer said. “But now, it looks like we have better alignment at president, chancellor and head coach.

“We’ve got a base to recruit to and play with, and now you have to put the wins out. And nine wins is a darn good season. Nine wins is sometimes the best job you did, with the injuries and things like that, or eight wins even.”

The Vols have finished 9-4 with bowl game wins in each of the past two seasons. Last year, they were widely expected to win the SEC East and possibly the SEC championship but instead came up short on both of those fronts.

RELATED: Butch Jones: ‘The window is not closing’ – and for his sake, it better not be

From 2008 (the final season before Fulmer was fired) until 2012, Tennessee went 5-7 three times, 6-7 once and 7-6 once. In 2013, Jones’ first season, the Vols went 5-7 and in 2014, they went 7-6.

Tennessee was placed on probation due to violations committed during Kiffin’s one season as coach in 2009 and the school also has dealt with a Title IX lawsuit, which have affected Jones’ tenure.

Last season, 17 Vols starters missed games over the course of the season, including some for extended periods.

In late February, Tennessee hired Kansas State athletic director John Currie to the same position, but that decision only came after a months-long search for a replacement for the retiring Dave Hart.

Fulmer also doubled down on comments he made earlier that same day during the “1st Quarter,” another WNML radio show that airs before “Sports 180,” when he said Tennessee was “really close” to getting where it wants to be as a program.

“First to sixth in this league (SEC) is a play or two away from being there,” Fulmer said after saying that the 1995, 1997 and 2001 Tennessee teams were all close to being national championship teams.

RELATED: Even with John Currie, Phillip Fulmer says he’s going to be ‘around’ and ‘involved’

(You can follow Kevin Connell on Twitter @_KevinConnell)

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