Seven months into the job new Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer says he knows he hired the right man to take over the football program in Jeremy Pruitt.
Today Fulmer spoke to hundreds of Volunteer fans at the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville as part of the Sports Council's speaker series. The Volunteers went 0-8 last year in the SEC and Fulmer said when Spring Practice started they struggled mightily, but he is very encouraged by how much better they were when they finished, "We definitely made progress, we had a lot of progress that needed to be made though. That's the other thing and particularly that we were so short-handed with a number of injuries that were not back yet and then just void at some positions. So by the end of Spring, it was a different looking football team."
Fulmer acknowledged improved does not mean championship caliber yet though, "Now are they ready to go win the conference? Probably not, you know, but recruiting and another summer of development this fall you know you never know what can happen."
The relationship between A-D and head coach can be a tricky one, especially when the A-D used to be the head coach, but Fulmer stressed his relationship with Pruitt is extremely strong and trusting. He said both men like to bounce ideas off each other and Pruitt is free to use or not use anything he says.
The season kicks off in less than two months when the Volunteers open against West Virginia in Charlotte. What's most important right now at Tennessee? Fulmer said it is about continuing to develop relationships within the department. "Culture, I think just getting our culture right. You know I told you our 4 pillars, you know, trust right now. Everybody's got to learn to trust everyone and is going to do everything they can for their particular jobs all through the department to be successful."
As for the future at Tennessee, Fulmer says he wants to see the school ranked in the top 20 for the All-Sports championship.