Phillip Fulmer

Current Tennessee coaching candidate blind taste test

When Phillip Fulmer took over as Tennessee’s athletic director last Friday, the Vols didn’t just hit the reset button on their coaching search, they mashed it a good one. Suddenly, we went from lists that included scores and scores of names and media outlets that all said something different to most media members reporting the same smaller handful of names. Maybe the chef has assumed sole command the kitchen so he could cook up something palatable to the starving masses.

Word is that Fulmer is wanting to make a decision by the end of the day today. If that’s true, we should know something soon after that, perhaps by Thursday. For now, though, let’s compare the short resumes of the guys that appear to be in the running and see how everything looks when you’re not focusing on their names.


Coach 1

  • Head coach, second-level program for three years
  • Coordinator, top-level program for four years before that

S&P+ as head coach

  • 2017: 60 (8/93)
  • 2016: 90 (72/126)
  • 2015: 103 (63/74)

S&P+ as coordinator

  • 2014: 76
  • 2013: 12
  • 2012: 14
  • 2011: 25

Recruiter Rankings

  • 2017 (head coach, second-level): Not in the Top 500
  • 2016 (head coach, second-level): Not in the Top 500
  • 2015 (head coach, second-level): 427
  • 2014 (coordinator, top-level): 75
  • 2013 (coordinator, top-level): 76

Coach 2

  • Head coach, top-level program for 11 years

S&P+ as head coach

  • 2016: 4 (22/3)
  • 2015: 11 (14/28)
  • 2014: 20 (58/9)
  • 2013: 13 (14/28)
  • 2012: 11 (36/7)
  • 2011: 1 (13/2)
  • 2010: 15 (42/3)
  • 2009: 12 (37/9)
  • 2008: 24 (28/34)
  • 2007: 2 (13/3)
  • 2006: 5 (12/6)
  • 2005: 9 (29/10)

Recruiter Rankings

  • Not in the Top 500 for any year on record

Coach 3

  • Coordinator, two top-level programs for three years

S&P+ as coordinator

  • 2017: 5
  • 2016: 9
  • 2015: 28

Recruiter Rankings

  • 2017: 453
  • 2016: 267
  • 2015: N/A

Coach 4

  • Coordinator, two top-level programs for three years

S&P+ as coordinator

  • 2017: 8
  • 2016: 35
  • 2015: 1

Recruiter Rankings

  • 2017: 20
  • 2016: 18
  • 2015: N/A

Coach 5

  • Coordinator, three top-level programs for five years

S&P+ as coordinator

  • 2017: 3
  • 2016: 1
  • 2015: 11
  • 2014: 16
  • 2015: 7

Recruiter Rankings

  • 2017: 149
  • 2016: 71
  • 2015: 37
  • 2014: 36
  • 2013: 1

Coach 6

  • Coordinator, one top-level program for six years

S&P+ as coordinator

  • 2017: 2
  • 2016: 6
  • 2015: 6
  • 2014: 1
  • 2015: 41
  • 2014: 62

Recruiter Rankings

  • 2017: 40
  • 2016: 6
  • 2015: 35
  • 2014: 227
  • 2013: 44

Coach 7

  • Coordinator, one top-level program for two years

S&P+ as coordinator

  • 2017: 15
  • 2016: 12

Recruiter Rankings as coordinator

  • 2017: 11
  • 2016: 1

Recruiter Rankings as position coach

  • 2015: 2
  • 2014: 2
  • 2013: 92

My Results

Just going off these numbers, as much as I can do so blindly after having done the research, here’s the way I think I’d rank them:

  1. Coach 2 — Head coaching experience at a major program over an extended period with excellent overall results. Not listed as a recruiter anywhere, but presumably his staff could recruit.
  2. Coach 5 – Five years as a coordinator, and excelled all five years. Did it at three different programs, so it’s not a fluke. Also a solid recruiter.
  3. Coach 6 – This guy is basically the same as Coach 5, except he’s only done it at one place.
  4. Coach 4 – A coordinator at two major programs with excellent numbers and elite recruiting to boot.
  5. Coach 7 – Basically Coach 4 with one year less experience, but arguably with even more promise, both in stats and recruiting ability.
  6. Coach 3 – This guy is Coach 4, but with worse recruiting.
  7. Coach 1 – Head coaching experience at a second-tier program after four years as a major program coordinator. As a coordinator, he looked much like the other coordinators on the list, but recruiting wasn’t elite. As a head coach, he has decent numbers on one side of the ball in his third year, but not on the other.

That’s how I’d rank them at this time. What do y’all think?


Here’s the key:

  • Coach 1: SMU head coach Chad Morris (formerly OC of Clemson)
  • Coach 2: Former LSU head coach Les Miles
  • Coach 3: Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele (formerly DC of LSU)
  • Coach 4: Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker (formerly DC of Alabama)
  • Coach 5: Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt (formerly DC of Georgia and FSU)
  • Coach 6: Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables
  • Coach 7: USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin

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25 Comments on "Current Tennessee coaching candidate blind taste test"

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Andrew Cooper

I think 2, 5, or 6 would all be excellent choices based completely on the numbers. We’ll just have to see.

Isaac Bishop

Sad part is Coach 2 wants the job, but for whatever reason nobody wants him..

Alyas Grey
Member The reason I love Chad Morris is that his offenses are incredibly flexible and basically tailor made to combat Saban’s increasingly popular switching zone defensive schemes. His defense’s strength comes from ensuring a numbers advantage up front by running a combination man/zone coverage scheme that has DBs reading routes in such a way that it keeps coverage over the top solid while releasing underneath to zone. What this ultimately does is limit the number of backs needed in coverage and leaves an extra defender for run defense and causes them to have a numbers advantage and wrecks run schemes… Read more »
Alyas Grey

And for the record, I think recruiting at Tennessee is far easier than folks assume.
I’d not worry that much about a potential hire’s recruiting chops unless they were completely in the gutter.

Alyas Grey

After doing some more research on Jeremy Pruitt he is the coach I now want above all others.

We would almost certainly install the hybrid zone defense that’s been successful at Alabama and frankly it would be really fun to see Florida try to move the ball on that defense.

Isaac Bishop

Yeah out of the three he seems to be the best candidate. If we snatch Tee Martin for offense than that could work well.


This was a great way to approach this Joel. It helps clear out presuppositions about these guys.

My rankings are pretty similar to your’s Joel. I’d flip your 4 (Tucker) spot with your 5 (Martin) spot just because the recruiting was a bit higher. Knowing who they are doesn’t really change much for me. Maybe I like Morris a bit more than the numbers give him credit for because I do like his improvement of SMU (which you can see the numbers rising even if they are still a bit low). His time as coordinator looks pretty solid too, although the recruiting is only so-so. I’m also lower on Steele, because I still consider his time at… Read more »
Isaac Bishop

So apparently a five year deal was offered to Pruitt, but he turned it down because the admin wouldn’t let him coach during the playoffs. This is so stupid..

Isaac Bishop

Apparently administration is wisely reconsidering this point.

Andrew Cooper

Great googly moogly. The guy worked hard to get to the playoffs. Let him coach.

Alyas Grey

Yeah, let’s not torpedo the hiring of a coach that’s hopefully going to be around many years just so we can improve our chances of landing a single 5* recruit. Boy, we’d end up feeling, and looking, really stupid if we turned down Pruitt for that reason and ended up not landing Cade Mays anyways.

Honestly, I’m fine with mostly sacrificing this whole recruiting class if it means getting the best HC possible. We’re already very talented and even if our class is mediocre I’m sure there will still be some future contributors in it.


Pruitt has accepted the Tennessee job, per Hyams.