“I'm studying Xs and Os and philosophies and organizational things to get myself prepared to be a coach again if I get that opportunity or if I choose to do that,” he said recently. “Right now my plan is to coach again.
Fulmer did some on-camera analysis for ESPN during the bowl season last January. Although he thoroughly enjoyed the experience, he concedes that TV work may not be a viable option this fall.
“I feel comfortable in front of the camera,” he said. “I may do some of that but they (ESPN executives) have got the same problems everybody else does with the economy right now. And I'm not sure I want to take up every fall weekend running to Bristol (Connecticut) or New York or somewhere to do that (color commentary).”
Now that he's a TV analyst and all, you wonder: What is Phillip Fulmer's forecast for Tennessee's 2009 season?
“Well, I'm an alumnus first, so I think they're going to win 'em all,” he said with a laugh. “Isn't that what you're supposed to be like?”
Whatever Fulmer does to pass the fall of 2009, odds are good he'll be back on the football field – somewhere – in 2010.
“I miss a lot about coaching,” he said. “I miss the kids mostly. But I've also enjoyed more free time than I've ever had. This has been a good Sabbatical, regardless of what happens from here.”
Now that he isn't working 16-hour days from August through December and pounding the recruiting trail the rest of the year, Fulmer is getting a lot more quality time at home with his wife Vicky.
“She hasn't kicked me out yet,” he quipped.
Because of the demands on their time, college coaches don't get to enjoy the quality time with family most folks take for granted. Fulmer has been reminded of this since he was forced to resign as UT's head man following the 2008 season.
“Probably as much as anything what you realize is that you missed a lot,” he said. “You try to catch up every way you can.”
Lately, Fulmer has been playing catch-up with his infant grandson.
“It's been wonderful for me to slip away from what I'm doing at 4 in the afternoon and go hang out with the seven-month-old,” he said. “That's a good deal. It's not quite the pressure or the stress that ordinarily comes with the day-to-day.”
No longer facing the challenge of trying to deliver on the field and on the recruiting trail, Fulmer seems more relaxed and content than he has been in a long time. Whatever his future holds, he eagerly awaits it.
“I've got lots of life to live, and I look forward to living it,” he said. “Whether it's coaching or other things, I'm certainly moving on, and moving on at a rather fast pace.”