Fulmer, the 44th winner of the Trophy, coached teams that claimed a national championship, two conference titles and seven divisional crowns while winning nearly 75 percent of their games in 17 seasons he was head coach at the University of Tennessee. He left Tennessee ranked atop the winning percentage list for active coaches with at least 10 years experience in major college football.
Yet Fulmer's most cherished role centered around the teaching and guidance of young student-athletes. He built Tennessee football on a platform of "Family First" -- something UT players and coaches say is this program's greatest attribute.
And while his on-field accomplishments-- claiming 10 wins nine times in 16 full seasons--have obvious allure, it's the personal relationships that register most sincerely for Tennessee's native son.
The Volunteers under Fulmer posted 152 triumphs against only 52 defeats for a winning percentage of .744. At the conclusion of his final season, no active coach with at least a decade in Division I-A had such a lofty victory rate.
In his final 10 seasons, Fulmer led the Vols to a 98-41 mark and played in three conference title games along with five New Year?s Day bowls.
The hallmarks of his early years on Rocky Top included him joining former Nebraska legend Tom Osborne as the only coaches to lead a team to a bowl game in their first 13 years of coaching and, of course, the 1998 BCS National Championship. That season, Fulmer guided Tennessee to its sixth national championship with a perfect 13-0 record and a Tostitos Fiesta Bowl victory over Florida State. In the 17 seasons Fulmer was leading the UT program, more than 10 million fans passed through the Neyland Stadium turnstiles, helping to solidify the building's reputation as one of the true cathedrals of college football.
One of the accepted measures of a program's success is position in the national polls. This, too, was a testimonial to Fulmer's sure hand at the helm. Under Fulmer, the Vols had a streak of 54 consecutive weeks ranked in the top 10 and were ranked in the national polls at game time for 169 of Fulmer's 204 games as head coach. Tennessee also didn't back down from ranked competition during the Fulmer years, posting a 44-37 record against ranked teams during his tenure.
The former Vols offensive lineman served 13 years as a Vols assistant beginning in 1980 before becoming the 20th head football coach at Tennessee. The decision to elevate Fulmer occurred five seasons after he was appointed assistant head coach and three seasons after he became offensive coordinator. Fulmer arrived at Tennessee after one year at Vanderbilt and five at Wichita State. His coaching career began at Tennessee, where he served as a student assistant in 1972 and 1973 after finishing his playing career in 1971.
Fulmer is the national spokesperson for the Jason Foundation Inc., and considers such experiences essential to the education process young athletes. He recently was named the first recipient of the "Grant Teaff Breaking the Silence Award," presented jointly by the AFCA and the Jason Foundation.
He also has served on such boards of directors as Boys and Girls Clubs, American Football Coaches Association, Team Focus and Child and Family Services. Fulmer is married to the former Vicky Morey and has four children: Phillip Jr., Courtney, Brittany and Allison.
History of the Gen. Robert R. Neyland Trophy In 1967, the Knoxville Quarterback Club, seeking a way to honor Gen. Neyland?s memory, established the Robert R. Neyland Memorial Trophy. This award is given annually by the Club to an outstanding man who has contributed greatly to intercollegiate athletics. The first presentation in 1967 included the man who hired Gen. Neyland in 1926 and his first All-America lineman, who later became head coach at Yale. The permanent trophy is displayed in the Tennessee Hall of Fame Exhibit in the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center on the University of Tennessee campus. Previous Honorees
1967 - Nathan W. Dougherty, Tennessee
1967 - Herman Hickman, Yale
1968 - Wallace Wade, Alabama
1969 - Bobby Dodd, Georgia Tech
1970 - John Barnhill, Arkansas
1971 - Jess Neely, Rice
1972 - John Vaught, Mississippi
1973 - Bud Wilkinson, Oklahoma
1974 - Fritz Crisler, Michigan
1975 - Lynn 'Pappy' Waldorf, California
1976 - John McKay, Southern California
1977 - Darrell Royal, Texas
1978 - Ralph 'Shug' Jordan, Auburn
1979 - Frank Broyles, Arkansas
1980 - Bob Devaney, Nebraska
1981 - Ara Parseghian, Notre Dame
1982 - Bill Murray, Duke
1983 - Paul 'Bear' Bryant, Alabama
1984 - Woody Hayes, Ohio State
1985 - Duffy Daugherty, Michigan State
1986 - Bob Woodruff, Tennessee
1987 - Charles McClendon, LSU
1988 - LaVell Edwards, Brigham Young
1990 - Bo Schembechler, Michigan
1991 - Murray Warmath, Minnesota
1992 - Bobby Bowden, Florida State
1993 - Grant Teaff, Baylor
1994 - Jerry Claiborne, Kentucky
1995 - Dan Devine, Notre Dame
1996 - Hayden Fry, Iowa
1997 - Terry Donahue, UCLA
1998 - Lou Holtz, Notre Dame
1999 - Eddie Robinson, Grambling
2000 - Tom Osborne, Nebraska
2001 - Doug Dickey, Tennessee
2002 - Gene Stallings, Alabama
2003 - John Majors, Pittsburgh
2004 - John Gaglidardi, St. John's (Minn.)
2005 - Barry Switzer, Oklahoma
2006 - John Cooper, Ohio State
2007 - John Robinson, UNLV
2008 - Lloyd Carr, Michigan
2009 - Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee