Fulmer makes like Tom

Vol football coach Phillip Fulmer always patterned his coaching style after that of Nebraska's Tom Osborne. Apparently, he patterned himself well.

Fulmer recently became the second coach in NCAA history to lead his team to a bowl game in each of his first 13 seasons. The only other coach to do so: Who else? Tom Osborne.

Like Osborne, however, Fulmer has accomplishments that go much deeper than bowl trips.

* His 13-year record is 123-31, giving him a .799 winning percentage that is tops among Div. 1-A among coaches with at least a decade of tenure.

* He has won six Southeastern Conference Eastern Division titles and two overall SEC titles.

* He stands 81-21 against league foes, a winning percentage (.794) that is virtually identical to his overall percentage.

* He has won five of the past eight Southeastern Conference Eastern Division titles.

* He stands 9-2-1 against Alabama, a program that beat Tennessee seven times in a row prior to his hiring. P.S. -- The tie was later ruled a Vol victory because the Tide used an ineligible player. * He has won more than 100 games in the past decade, averaging slightly better than 10 victories per year.

* His record over the past 10 years (101-25) is best among Southeastern Conference programs and second-best nationally.

* With 18 starters back from a 2004 team that won 10 games, including a 38-7 Cotton Bowl blitz of Texas A&M that broke the school record for victory margin in a bowl game, Fulmer could make a serious run at a second national title in 2005. He won his first, of course, in 1998.

If Fulmer's aim was to be the second coming of Tom Osborne, he seems well on his way.


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