All week, people have been blasting Phillip Fulmer and UT for his not showing up for the SEC Media Days this week. I've gone on about this before, but I was glad to hear Fulmer's opening statement yesterday to the media. It's no nonsense and you can tell he's had it up to here with all of this stupidity. (I will admit I got a bit annoyed at Rick and Bubba
this morning when they took fifteen or so minutes to rip on Fulmer without really actually bothering to understand why he hadn't come or read the full story..but then I rembered--Rick and Bubba exaggerate something for the sake of humor?!? Noooooo...that never happens!) A couple of things that Fulmer said that I really liked:
"We now have a small group of radical attorney, who on their own, have undertaken their own agenda to smear the NCAA and any one else they can along the way. These irresponsible people have alleged that there was a conspiracy between the Justice Department of the United States, the FBI, the NCAA, the University of Tennessee, and me. These kinds of statements are absurd. These are the same people who sued two sitting Alabama governors.
"University Presidents shaped the NCAA as our governing body some 100 years ago and we all participate voluntarily. In my 30 years of coaching, the people I have met from the NCAA seem to be bright and honorable people. I do not agree with everything they do, but they are our governing body and most of the rules we have has come from abuse and intended for the good of the whole body of members.
"Many coaches knew or suspected there was cheating going on and had challenged the suspect coaches to get it stopped. It was even addressed with all 12 SEC coaches in the same room at the SEC spring meeting a few years ago. It had been addressed long before the hammer finally fell.
"I strongly believe that this effort by an isolated group of irresponsible attorneys to somehow glorify or excuse illegal conduct at the expense of college football is hypocritical on their part."
As to why he didn't attend media days: "Everyone wants to know why I'm not in Birmingham. Again, I'm not an attorney, but I will do my best to explain it. I am a defendant, along with the NCAA and the American Football Coaches Association — which in my opinion is pretty good company — in a frivolous lawsuit in Tuscaloosa.
This could have been over weeks ago. Our motion to dismiss was continued several weeks ago to next Monday by the rogue lawyers and the timing of that is no coincidence. "
Gee, a lawyer trying to play games. Yeah, that would NEVER happen. (In case you can't tell that last sentence was written in full sarcasm mode!)
"I've heard it asked, 'why not give a deposition and tell the truth'. That is actually two questions. First, through this entire affair, I have told the truth and will continue to tell the truth. Second, telling the truth is much different than agreeing to be a stage prop for a lawsuit that is for show.
"They have proven they are not interested in the truth. They only showboat and grandstand. They make wild charges — incredible exaggerations and tell half-truths to try and make their case.
"The truth is not on their side. I simply do not intend to play their game. I will not be drug into a deposition the week of the Florida, Georgia, or Alabama game.
"I do not want this extended any longer. I do not want to go back and forth during the season at the whim of a lawyer. I have a duty and responsibility to my players and my university and all the fans and boosters that support it. I am going to fulfill my duties as the Tennessee coach and let the lawyers do their jobs.
"As for the attack, I plan to fight every step of the way and give nothing. I am in this, not by my own doing, unless you count doing what was right when asked by our governing body. A couple of you called me a coward. I was disappointed to see that. You can talk about my coaching if we lose. You can talk about my play calling in games. You might talk about my physique if you chose to stoop that low, but coward is way over the line.
"The same people that used the space to call me a coward have used that same space to talk about cleaning up the SEC from cheating."
First of all, I love the line about calling him a coward. I also love that he also throws in those of us who talk about his weight gain (and I have, at times said, you can tell how successful Fulmer is based on his waistline getting larger each year). I also like that Fulmer doesn't want this "frivelous" stuff to interfere with the season. I can only hope that the intensity and passion we've seen here in Fulmer will carry over to the field this season. We've got a tough one--and it's top-heavy as usual. That Florida game is going to be epic. We have to split with Georgia and Florida to have a shot at the East. I say we beat Florida early and then think about taking out the Bulldogs. But I am getting off the subject here (gee, huge surprise there, right?)
If you want to read the full transcript of Fulmer's comments
(registration required to read, but it's free and worth it!), I recommend doing so. Strong words and good stuff.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/30/2004 03:41:00 PM