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Phillip Fulmer is the head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers college football team. Fulmer has coached the team since the 1992 season. He resigned on November 3, 2008, although he will remain in his current position through the end of the 2008 season. He is best known for coaching the Volunteers to the national championship in 1998, with Tee Martin as quarterback. Fulmer is the school's 20th head football coach.
Phillip Fulmer served as linebacker coach and defensive coordinator for the Vols freshman team in 1973 before moving to Wichita State University the following season. He spent five years at Wichita State, where he coached the offensive line in 1974 and 1977-78 and served as linebacker coach in 1975-76. He followed those years with a one-season stint at Vanderbilt, serving as an aide to Commodores head coach George MacIntyre.
Fulmer served 13 years as a Vols assistant coach beginning in 1980 before becoming the 20th head football coach at Tennessee, after a controversial decision to replace then-coach Johnny Majors, who had been ill.
In Phillip Fulmer's early career Tennessee won two Southeastern Conference championships, in 1997 and 1998, and a national championship in 1998. The Vols made three other SEC Championship game appearances in 2001, 2004, and 2007 losing all three. Despite the decline over the past several years, Fulmer's winning percentage is still among the top in the country for coaches who have over ten years' experience.
Phillip Fulmer helped return Tennessee to national prominence from 1993 to 1998, when he won the first ever BCS National Championship Game. The Vols appeared in three consecutive Bowl Alliance or BCS games from 1997 to 1999, and posted 10 or more wins from 1995 to 1998. The senior class of the 1998 team compiled a record of 45-5, losing only to Florida (3 times), Nebraska and Memphis.
Fulmer has a reputation as an ace recruiter, leading many analysts to praise him as one of the game's top head coach recruiters. Fulmer has only had one losing season at Tennessee: in 2005, Fulmer's pre-season third-ranked Volunteers went 5-6, losing to in-state SEC rival Vanderbilt for the first time in his 14-year tenure. The losing season also kept Tennessee out of a bowl game for the first time since 1988, a streak of 16 years which was the third-longest in the NCAA.
After a slow start in 2008, Fulmer has come under some boycotts from Vols fans, leaving skepticism about how long he would remain Tennessee's head football coach despite having just received a contract extension after the 2007 season. Tennessee finally notified Fulmer to dismiss him on November 2, 2008. The next day, he agreed to step down as head coach following the season.