Phillip Fulmer's stint as head football coach of the Tennessee Vols may be down to a matter of hours…
"Coach Fulmer has been, and will continue to be, a great representative of the University and the athletics department," said UT athletics director Mike Hamilton. "He has dedicated a majority of his life to our program and brought home two SEC championships and a national championship. He has secured his place as the second winningest coach in Tennessee history behind Gen. Neyland. I personally appreciate everything he has done for Tennessee."
The dean of Southeastern Conference coaches, Fulmer has claimed a national championship, two conference titles and seven divisional crowns while winning nearly three-quarters of his games. He also retains his standing among the winning coaches with at least 10 years experience in major college football.
"I am proud of what we've done at Tennessee. We've won a lot of games, we've won championships, we've done it the right way, we've helped a lot of young men grow up and we've been a credit to our university every step of the way," said Fulmer. "For as long as I can remember, even as boy growing up in Winchester, Tennessee football has been something that brought our university and even our state together. East Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, West Tennessee…people from all walks of life and people of different opinions on everything else could agree on one thing – the Volunteers. I love Tennessee too much to let her stay divided."
Fulmer also joined an elite coaching list last season when his career record improved to 100 games over the .500 mark joining Bobby Bowden, Joe Paterno, Jim Tressel, Steve Spurrier, Chris Ault and Frank Beamer as the only active coaches in that fraternity. With three games remaining, Fulmer has a chance to spring back above that plus-100 milestone before calling it a career.
Fulmer's coaching record also includes these accomplishments:
• Selection as National and SEC coach of the year in 1998.
• The first Tennessee team to post 13 victories in a single season, a record in 1998 that included an SEC championship and Tostitos Fiesta Bowl win for the national title.
• Back-to-back SEC titles in 1997-98 and five Eastern Division crowns in the last 10 years. The Vols have won or tied for the division title seven times under Fulmer.
• A record of 45-5 from 1995-98, the most victories over a four-year span in school history.
• Six seasons finishing in the top 10 nationally and 13 seasons ranked in the top 25.
• Seventeen Tennessee players earning first-team All-America honors.
• Sixteen first-round NFL selections since 1993 and a total of 90 players selected overall. The team's five first-day 2007 NFL Draft picks were the most of any school and UT has led the SEC with the most players on opening-day NFL rosters in two of the last three seasons.
• Fifteen bowl games have welcomed the Vols, including 13 January bowl invitations.
• In two of the last three seasons, Tennessee football has led the SEC in Academic Honor Roll recipients.
Fulmer was an offensive guard at Tennessee from 1968-71. He began his coaching career at Tennessee before stints at Wichita State (1974-78) and Vanderbilt (1979). Fulmer returned to Tennessee in 1980 and was promoted to head coach in 1992. He has been enshrined in both the Tennessee Sports and Knoxville Sports halls of fame.
Tennessee will begin a national coaching search immediately.