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‘Days of Our Lives,’ Tennessee-style, starring Phil Fulmer and John Currie

Phillip Fulmer John Currie
FULMER PHOTO BY USA TODAY SPORTS; CURRIE PHOTO COURTESY TENNESSEE ATHLETICS

When I spoke to a former Tennessee football player who wishes to remain anonymous on Thursday, I was presented with a conspiracy theory that was almost impossible to believe.

The player told me he firmly believed former UT coach Phillip Fulmer was purposefully sabotaging Tennessee’s coaching search to get John Currie fired and become his replacement. I checked the sky for black helicopters. I didn’t see any.

But I did consider the possibility. After all, Fulmer is widely believed to have sabotaged former UT coach Johnny Majors to become the Vols’ coach in 1992. So in that vein, undermining Currie wouldn’t have been out of character for Fulmer.

Majors certainly believes Fulmer was responsible for his firing. Majors often has said Fulmer stabbed him in the back as doctors were operating on his front, referring to his heart surgery at the time. Still, it was hard to believe that Fulmer would be so brazen once again when it came to Currie.

Then came this report from Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports shortly after Currie reportedly was fired Friday morning.

Feldman is one of the best college football insiders in the country. He wouldn’t simply float that out there if he didn’t believe his source.

Now, in fairness to Fulmer, that source could be incorrect.

But shortly after Feldman’s tweet came these from another college football insider, Brett McMurphy.

I have been told by multiple sources that Fulmer was led to believe he would replace Dave Hart and become athletic director. Then, Currie was announced as UT’s new athletic director just days later and apparently Fulmer felt duped.

That wasn’t the first time Currie got the upper hand on Fulmer. He was part of the brain trust at UT that fired Fulmer following the 2008 season. Fulmer used to always say he was like an elephant and never forgets. I’m guessing he didn’t forget getting fired.

RELATED: Kiffin, Dooley, Jones: Which Tennessee coach was the worst?

If Fulmer truly tried to sabotage UT’s coaching search, it might work out for the best. Duke coach David Cutcliffe, who was a longtime assistant at UT, recently said he wasn’t interested in the Tennessee job. With Fulmer at the helm, perhaps that changes.

But there’s something much more significant at play here. If Fulmer purposefully undermined UT’s coaching search, he can’t be trusted. If that’s proven, he should be banned from the program permanently. No athletic program needs someone that morally bankrupt. But don’t expect that to happen.

Fans of Majors were irate in 1992. Yet Fulmer kept smiling and weathered the storm. He may very well do that again – as Tennessee’s new athletic director.

(You can follow Dave Hooker on Twitter @TheDaveHooker)

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