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Monday, December 5, 2011

Keegan

If biggest coaching names choose other schools, Phillip Fulmer could fit at KU

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Tracking the Kansas University coaching search recalls the conference realignment musical-chairs game, replete with wild swings from optimism to pessimism and right back to optimism.

It’s so fluid because it involves so many different parts, competing interests, emotion-driven changes in the market.

Mike Leach, a different case because he has lawsuits against Texas Tech and ESPN, did not cause the dominoes to tumble.

The next biggest names on the radar of coach-seekers — Larry Fedora, Charlie Strong and Kevin Sumlin — could trigger a rapid succession of hirings.

The worst-case scenario from a public-relations standpoint for Kansas: Bubba Cunningham, KU’s first choice for athletic director, entices Fedora to come to North Carolina to work for him. Cunningham is extremely familiar with Fedora’s work because they both were in Conference USA. Despite having worked as a high school coach in Texas and at as an offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State and a position coach at Baylor, most of Fedora’s Southern Miss players were recruited from the deep South, including 11 from Florida on this year’s roster. Fedora worked as Florida’s offensive coordinator (2002-2004).

If it plays out that way, it doesn’t mean Cunningham’s a better recruiter than Zenger. It means Fedora feels he has a better chance of winning conference championships at North Carolina than at KU.

If Texas A&M wanted Kevin Sumlin before the lopsided loss to Southern Miss in the Conference USA championship game, why let one game change your thinking? Then again, A&M has been known to make emotion-charged moves.

Strong coached in the SEC as Florida’s defensive coordinator, leading some to believe that makes him a better fit than Sumlin. Yet, Sumlin has recruited the east Texas area so well through the years.

At this moment, we’re pretty much guessing, so guess we’ll do at a few schools could fill their coaching vacancies.

North Carolina: Fedora.

Texas A&M: Sumlin.

Illinois: Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst.

UCLA, Arizona State? Let’s see if the first three dominoes fall. Kansas? Zenger’s cone of silence works much better than Maxwell Smart’s did. Those in the industry believe Zenger hasn’t yet turned to assistant coaches and won’t until his list of candidates with head-coaching experience has been exhausted.

Phillip Fulmer, 61, was interviewed by Kansas two years ago, but didn’t get an offer, despite making a hugely positive impression on some in the room. The guy has a personality that would market the program. Of all the coaches who appeared in Blind Side, he popped through the screen as the guy for whom I would want to play if I were 30-something years younger, eight inches taller, far more coordinated, faster and if my weight were distributed differently.

When a man who has won a national championship at Tennessee is interviewed for a less prestigious job and doesn’t get it, it would be asking a lot to expect him to interview again. If he’s not gung-ho to become the next Kansas coach, he’s not the man. If he is, Zenger might want to invite him into his cone of silence.

Comments

JoeVol 2 years, 4 months ago

From someone who has followed Phil Fulmer's Tennessee career, he is a terrific recruiter...he had to be to win big at Tennessee. His strength is his recruiting...more so than X and Os. Parents and kids alike love his "living room" manner. Part of his recruiting success early resulted from bad coaches at Georgia and Florida plus Ole Miss's probation which allowed the recruitment of Peyton Manning (otherwise his father would have placed Peyton at Ole Miss as he did with Eli). Fulmer's demise came when the coaching situations at Georgia (Richt) and Florida (Meyer) improved, and when his offensive coordinator, David Cutcliffe, left to become head coach at Ole Miss. By the way, his defensive co-ordinator was John Chavis, currently defensive co-ordinator at LSU. Phil made two bad hires: promoting an untested assistant, Randy Sanders (now at Kentucky), to offensive co-ordinator, and several years later upon hiring Richmond's head coach as offensive co-ordinator. Fulmer is loyal to his staff to a fault. Measuring the good versus the bad...the potential benefit to Kansas is great. Particularly, if he is "hungry," will hustle, and if he really wants to coach again. Fulmer is a wealthy man. To my knowledge he is still being paid over a million a year at Tennessee. Would Fulmer be better than what we at Tennessee have now? Sadly, probably yes. Did I think his time had passed at Tennessee? Yes, again. Unfortunately, we can't counter your offer. "Fire in the belly" would be a good judgement to make on your part. Good luck on your search.

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irvan moore 2 years, 4 months ago

i wonder, probably not but maybe it's possible zenger is making a deal with an x college NFL coach and going to impress the heck out of us.

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gorilla10 2 years, 4 months ago

If a legendary coach such as Fulmer is INTERESTED in the Kansas job....You better take a look at him and seriously consider him. He's won a Championship and had some great seasons at KU. I'm not sure KU is the school to test another coach out at.....I would rather bring in experience to at least get us back on our feet!

Fulmer is what 61? That means he could get us back on our feet in a year or two and really get going after that! 7-8 years of competitive football with Fulmer is fine with me!!!

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Larry Ewart 2 years, 4 months ago

This hire is about having a HC with a lot of visibility who can hire an outstanding coaching staff who can recruit. Phillip F. brings that to the table. Remember this football program is so low it has to look up to see bottom. If he can bring us back to even 6 wins or 7 a year I am in big time. I was here during the years of Valesente and this past season was a mirror image. Pitiful! Zenger will bring someone with a strong FB background. Fulmer knows where mistakes are made when heading up a program he would get us turned around to respectability.

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nuleafjhawk 2 years, 4 months ago

If the Head Cheerleader won't go to prom with us, maybe we can go down to the homeless shelter and find a nice date with most of her teeth.

That's what this title says to me.

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Gregor Southard 2 years, 4 months ago

I live in Nashville, I can't stand UT (Knoxville) but Fulmer would be a great hire. He would bring stabilty and competence. He's an established winner and why we couldn't bring in an "heir apparent" as well to coach and study under him?

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coachmatt 2 years, 4 months ago

I've never been a fan of Fulmer, so obviously I'm biased. But I just think the game has passed him by. Kids these days are way different than kids in the 90's and the game has changed since then. What has he been doing since Tennessee? If he's been available, why hasn't somebody hired him?

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mcrckchlk 2 years, 4 months ago

Phil Fulmer should be starting his third season as the KU football coach.

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flyingfinn 2 years, 4 months ago

Forget about age, Bill Snyder is 11 years older and has proven he still can coach winners. Fulmer is a proven coach and is certainly better than some of the names Tait is speculating on.

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TheShot122293 2 years, 4 months ago

I am scratching my head at those writing off Fulmer. I was never a fan of his, of Tennessee, or of the SEC, but I would never write off having a winning record in that conference. I would not write off what he did with Manning, nor would I write off what he did without Manning. How many Big 12 championships did Leach, who so many were salivating over, have? How many SEC championships did Fulmer have? And he's somehow past his prime? Says who? On what basis? Is Bill Self past his prime if he doesn't win the conference championship this year?

Are we too good for a former SEC championship coach? For a former national championship coach? Does the sun revolve around the earth? What is going on here?

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crimsonwithblue22 2 years, 4 months ago

"If biggest coaching names choose other schools, Phillip Fulmer could fit at KU"

Perhaps Mr. Keegan meant "hottest" coaching names.

150-51 overall record at Tennessee (playing in the SEC).....won a national championship in 1998

How many national championships have the "biggest coaching names" won? How many big games have the "biggest coaching names" coached in ......how many games have they coached in a BCS conference? What's their overall winning percentage?

I'm just guessing that Coach Fulmer probably considers himself a pretty big coaching name........I'm just guessing that prior to this year, this month, the last couple of weeks......the majority of posters on this site knew NOTHING about Larry Fedora, Charlie Strong, Paul Chryst. However, almost every true college football fan knows the name Phillip Fulmer.

Poor and somewhat disrespectful headline. You can argue on his age, his time away from the game, whether or not he'd be the right fit for KU........but he's achieved a hell of a lot more than any of the candidates you mention and he IS most certainly a "big name" in college football.

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Randy Bombardier 2 years, 4 months ago

Fulmer 152-52 as a head coach, a winning percentage of .745. Only two losing seasons in 17 years. In each of those two losing seasons he still had five wins.

1 National Championship (1998) 2 SEC Championships (1997, 1998) 6 SEC Eastern Division Titles (1997, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2007) Awards AFCA Coach of the Year (1998) Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year (1998) George Munger Award (1998) Home Depot Coach of the Year Award (1998) Sporting News College Football COY (1998) SEC Coach of the Year (1998)

Wow. His resume is even better than I thought. This would be a really good hire, folks. Wow.

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hawktalker5 2 years, 4 months ago

He did win a championship with Manning aside from that he was middle of the road his overal record is about.500. He was at Tennesse how long I do believe he even retired on his own accord and pretty much stated he couldn't get recruits like he used to so what are you guys smoking thinking we can get Leach and Fedora we will get the lucky if we get a good oc/ or dc we wont be getting a current head coach what with all you people talking about kansas ties and all how come our team is terrible with all these kansas ties and all. Fans like some of you who think we are to high and mighty to let a coach even attempt to coach are rediculous

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jay381 2 years, 4 months ago

Two halves to Fulmer's career 1992-98 ' 99-2008 W-L 67-11 83-40 Win pct. . 859 .675 Sec w- l 4 3-7 51-27 sec win pct. 860 .654 SEC champ. game 2-0 0-3 Bowl W-L 5-2 3-5 vs. Top 25 23-9 20-28

Sorry about the columns I guess you cannot paste a spreadsheet into the comment box.

I lived in Memphis when this guy was terminated. He had completely split the alumni base. Granted early in his career he had been successful. However, the last few years, given the facilities, support, resources, tradition etc. of TN his last few years were a total failure. A lot of knowledgeable fans gave a tremendous amount of the credit to his OC David Clutcliffe. His downfall came after Clutcliffe took over the Old Miss job and the offense went to heck. Clutcliffe did come back and restore an offense for a couple of years and then took the Duke (?) HC job. If I remember correctly Cutcliffe also had a heart attack before leaving for Old Miss.

It is not as much his age as seeing first hand how he let the program go downhill in the last few years at a program with multiple times the resources of KU in football that would make he think no.

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mikehawk 2 years, 4 months ago

This is one very sad situation. Reminds of playing spin the bottle as a kid. Why don't we just throw a rock up in the air and see if it hits anyone, and what do you know, we have a new coach! As I have said all along, it will be either an "up and coming no name," an individual with a tarnished reputation (that would probably have been Leach), or a retread (that would be a Fulmer). OU has had to do the latter in basketball. Their program is a mess and they brought in Lon Kruger at top dollar, knowing he isn't going to win national championships. But, he brings maturity, integrity, a record that demands respect, know how in building a program, and solid coaching skills. If we go retread it would need to be someone who still has fire in his belly to go at least 5 years, which is what it will take with the "wave a magic wand donor/fan base" who thinks the right coach means immediate wins. If Matt keeps talking "the case for Chris Petersen" someone needs to get the coffee cup out of his hands, because there is more in there than just coffee.

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gardenjay 2 years, 4 months ago

KU has no money after Perkins, Gill, Mangino, the ticket scandal, suing Joe College, and obviously paying whoever makes awful decisions.

You're writing articles about a very weak position or a KU ready to go into strato-debt on the backs of students who will stop attending KU, so stop overselling.

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bjejayhawk69 2 years, 4 months ago

I would take Fulmer if Manning retires and comes on as OC !

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Vernon Riggs 2 years, 4 months ago

There are still more coaches than chairs in this game of Musical Chairs. When the music stops there will Fedora, Malzhan, Stoops or Dykes in the Kansas Chair. Any one of those four will be great choices.

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michael anway 2 years, 4 months ago

Hey! We had a young guy who was suppose to recruit and relate to young players. Look where that got us. Fulmer is better than most on these lists and let me think what else. OH, He won a National Championship! But I'm sure KU with it's highly regarded football program can easily get someone better. Let's see. We fired a coach who won a BCS Bowl game and the next guy we gave a whole two years to turn things around. I'm sure all your hot prospects are lined up outside Zenger's door to come on board. Face it folks. We'd be lucky to get someone like Fulmer.

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Keith Richards 2 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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HawkfromHays 2 years, 4 months ago

If you're going to go re-tread you could certainly do a lot worse.

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DXJhawk 2 years, 4 months ago

Yes, winning a national championship is very middle of the road. Some of the comments on here are just amazing.

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oregonjhawk 2 years, 4 months ago

I'd go with Fulmer as head coach. An amazing recruiter, plus Kansas ties having coached at WSU. I think Tennessee would have been better off keeping Fulmer after the Kiffin fiasco and their mediocrity since..

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Steve Williams 2 years, 4 months ago

Did Keegan really base his selection on which coach stood out to him most in a crappy feel good football movie made for soccer moms...smh

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hawktalker5 2 years, 4 months ago

Get real, his track record is middle of road at best and while im not saying ku is better than that if we have to resort to a mediocre coach get one that is younger, then agin this is just a keegan article everything thrown together three fourths of this isn't even about fulmer

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jhox 2 years, 4 months ago

Fulmer wasn't having much luck at Tennessee his last few years there, how would he be successful at Kansas? He would be a horrible choice. Time to get a clue, Keegan. We need a young, energetic guy who has a name in Texas recruiting circles.

As for competing with NC for a head coach, does anyone remember how protective Roy Williams was of "King basketball" at KU? He didn't want the competition. You can bet he feels the same way in Chapel Hill. Bill Self, on the other hand, seems to genuinely want the football program at KU to be successful. He understands the economics of the situation. Anyone who chooses NC over KU in this football raffle would be crazy, and would not have done their homework. Besides, at KU they would be working for a football guy in Zenger.

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jhox 2 years, 4 months ago

Fulmer wasn't having much luck at Tennessee his last few years there, how would he be successful at Kansas? He would be a horrible choice. Time to get a clue, Keegan. We need a young, energetic guy who has a name in Texas recruiting circles.

As for competing with NC for a head coach, does anyone remember how protective Roy Williams was of "King basketball" at KU? He didn't want the competition. You can bet he feels the same way in Chapel Hill. Bill Self, on the other hand, seems to genuinely want the football program at KU to be successful. He understands the economics of the situation. Anyone who chooses NC over KU in this football raffle would be crazy, and would not have done their homework. Besides, at KU they would be working for a football guy in Zenger.

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jhox 2 years, 4 months ago

Fulmer wasn't having much luck at Tennessee his last few years there, how would he be successful at Kansas? He would be a horrible choice. Time to get a clue, Keegan. We need a young, energetic guy who has a name in Texas recruiting circles.

As for competing with NC for a head coach, does anyone remember how protective Roy Williams was of "King basketball" at KU? He didn't want the competition. You can bet he feels the same way in Chapel Hill. Bill Self, on the other hand, seems to genuinely want the football program at KU to be successful. He understands the economics of the situation. Anyone who chooses NC over KU in this football raffle would be crazy, and would not have done their homework. Besides, at KU they would be working for a football guy in Zenger.

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pepper_bar 2 years, 4 months ago

Good column. Uncertainty reigns supreme right now.

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gbails 2 years, 4 months ago

Why as no one mentioned Bill Young???

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Alex Berger 2 years, 4 months ago

Why are so many people against Phil Fulmer? He was the head coach at Tennessee for 17 years, had a .750 winning percentage (in the SEC), with 2 SEC championships and a national championship. He only had two losing seasons (both with five wins) against 9 seasons with 10+ wins and his teams were always competitive. KU needs a proven winner with experience in leading a big time team.

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Tom Gillaspie 2 years, 4 months ago

So, let's hear why Fulmer is such a bad choice. I absolutely can't stand Keegan, but Fulmer is a proven entity and we have little or no hope of getting a coach who is a hot commodity right now. Why would any of them choose Kansas, unless the lure of a big payout after failing miserably is what they are looking for in a coaching job.

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Charlotte_Jhawk 2 years, 4 months ago

I saw something on ESPN that Mike Martz might be interested in UCLA or ASU. He's not a good fit for KU, but he puts entertaining teams on the field......

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Martin Rosenblum 2 years, 4 months ago

Hey, how old is Pepper Rodgers? He can't be as old as that old guy down I-70. Maybe he is what we need now! As long as we're throwing around older "has beens", why not throw his name out there too?

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Joe Templeton 2 years, 4 months ago

Why not go after Mike Sherman? Obviously he has ties to Tx and he is a hell of a coach IMO and he got a raw deal at A&M

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annette38 2 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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danmoore 2 years, 4 months ago

Fedora does have a better chance of winning a conference title at UNC. ACC is much easier than Big 12.

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DDDHawk 2 years, 4 months ago

Geez- I hope to heck any coach who is willing to consider our school doesn't read this thread! They will think we have the nastiest, negative, fans.

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DrGraydog 2 years, 4 months ago

KU could do much worse than Fulmer....Im on board if he is the guy

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DrGraydog 2 years, 4 months ago

KU could do much worse than Fulmer....Im on board if he is the guy

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phi4life940 2 years, 4 months ago

Negative. We'll get a no name coach....Fedora and Sumlin are going elsewhere or they are gonna stay put. Venables is staying in OU or waiting for Snyder to quit at KSU.

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johnnyhrdwd 2 years, 4 months ago

I don't know who you guys feel is interested in this job, but most are complete bums. Fedora or Sumlin would rather take the raise and stay at the school they're at than come to KU. We have to choose between a long shot up and comer, or a has been who was forced out of their job. We're not gonna get the same level of coach A&M will attract.

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KU_cynic 2 years, 4 months ago

It must be killing Keegan to have to shred his columns on KU getting a marquee coach (like Leach), pour some skim milk over them, and eat his words -- just like he had to shred his columns of two years ago when he said KU could get Jim Harbaugh to take the KU job. That was unbelievable.

Welcome back to planet earth, Tom. Just try your best to fake your enthusiasm when KU finally does announce the new coach . . . perhaps you can claim you "knew it all along", just as you did when Turner Gill was hired.

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Janet Scott 2 years, 4 months ago

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johnnyhrdwd 2 years, 4 months ago

He would definitely bring stability and he has the ability to hire a real staff.

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Dyrk Dugan 2 years, 4 months ago

Phil Fulmer....one word.....no.

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thunderhawk357 2 years, 4 months ago

Are you a real sports journalist? Fulmer? Why don't we just have Valasente come back? How about Woody Widenhofer? What the hell - Pat Ruel, Fulmer? I realize it's not a prize job, but it's a BCS job with good facilities an adequate stadium in a great setting (get rid of the track) and what appears to be a solid AD. Thankfully, you have zero input in this decision

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johnnyhrdwd 2 years, 4 months ago

He did recruit and coach Peyton Manning.

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