COLUMBIA — With Election Day less than a month away, perhaps Tennessee's administration should settle Phillip Fulmer's fate democratically.
The Knoxville newspaper's Web site this week poses this question of Fulmer, coach of the slumping 2-4 Volunteers: "With it being a presidential election year, would you re-elect Phillip Fulmer to coach the Vols?"
(No, impeachment wasn't an option.)
The results won't greatly surprise you. They didn't this reporter. But it tells you about the state of things in East Tennessee.
As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, 79 percent (11,079 people) voted no, that they would bounce Fulmer out of "office."
A modest 16 percent (2,291 people) said they'd keep the embattled dean of the SEC's coaches. Four percent (646 residents of Switzerland) were undecided.
More than 14,000 voters don't lie. Time certainly seems to be up for Fulmer, whose team doesn't have a gimme this week against Mississippi State before facing No. 2 Alabama at home and then traveling to South Carolina.
If anything, the move this week at Clemson at least opens the door for a midseason decision on Fulmer's fate.
UT AD Mike Hamilton acknowledged that in an interview this week with the Knoxville paper. He said, typically, he would evaluate a coach at the end of a season.
But, with another loss or two, these might not be typical times for Hamilton.
"That doesn't preclude you from doing something different," Hamilton said.
There's very little chance Fulmer survives this. Not with the road ahead and what's certain to be a struggle to become bowl-eligible.
But it'd be surprising still to see a Bowden-esque move. I'd bet that he'll finish the season, with a silent agreement with Hamilton in place that he'll resign in December.
As some of my peers have said, you have to hope Fulmer is treated with class upon exit. He won the school's first national title since the 1950s; recruited and developed the best player in school history, in Peyton Manning; and he's poured his heart and life into what he's done there.
You might not like him because he wears a giant orange sweatervest and occasionally beats your team, but Fulmer is a good guy.
In the end, I suspect he'll see the need for change and bow out.
There's a new breed of SEC playmaker. They're not very big. But, man, are they fast.
Couple of examples of small men with track speed: Florida's Jeff Demps and LSU's Trindon Holliday.
Demps is 5-9 and happens to be, literally, the fastest teen-ager in America. Holliday, at 5-5, has to be close. He's got his own bio on the U.S. Track & Field site. That's all you need to know about his quickness.
"If you give him seams, it can stretch (the field) very significantly," Miles said of employing and stopping small, fast players. "But if you can close those seams and use his size against him, that gives you the advantage. If the offensive line's giving him room to run, he gets through there pretty quick.
Urban Meyer, Florida coach: It doesn't matter how it happens, whether it's your team playing well or the other team playing poorly. If you beat the defending national champions by 30, you're doing something right. The Gators played fast, played angry — and played a lot better than LSU. Florida has a lot of speed, with several players that could break a long one at any moment. It showed Saturday night.
Game of the week
No. 13 Louisiana State at South Carolina (ESPN, 8 p.m.): The Hat isn't happy. And, as a result, you've got to imagine that Les Miles' players haven't been happy this week at practice. The Tigers were embarrassed at Florida. What're the odds it happens two weeks in a row?
Well, that didn't last long, did it? Still, the Commodores need just one more win to reach a bowl. And Duke's on the schedule.
Reach Travis Haney at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out the South Carolina blog at www.charleston.net/blogs/gamecocks/
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