Fulmer cans two aides

Tennessee football fans who have been clamoring for the dismissal of wide receiver coach Pat Washington and line coach Jimmy Ray Stephens got their wish. Head coach Phillip Fulmer announced Sunday afternoon that both men have been relieved of their duties, effective immediately.

"I appreciate everything Jimmy Ray and Pat have done for Tennessee over the years," Fulmer said in a statement released by the UT sports information department. "This was a difficult decision to make, but I feel it is in the best interest for the future of our football program."

Stephens and Washington bring to three the number of 2005 offensive aides now looking for work. Offensive coordinator Randy Sanders announced his resignation following UT's Oct. 29 loss to South Carolina but agreed to stay on as quarterbacks coach through the final game. Since the Vols finished 5-6 and ineligible for bowl play, that proved to be Saturday's 27-8 defeat of Kentucky.

The departure of Washington and Stephens hardly qualifies as a surprise. Tennessee's 2005 offense was utterly inept. The Vols ranked 10th among the 12 Southeastern Conference schools in scoring offense (18.6 points per game), ninth in passing offense (198 yards per game), eighth in rushing offense (128 yards per game) and eighth in total offense (326 yards per game). They were 12th in turnovers (27) and 11th in pass efficiency.

Stephens, 51, spent three seasons at UT after a nine-year stint coaching the offensive line at Florida. He also coached for 13 years in the high school ranks.

Washington, 42, joined the staff in 1995. Prior to coming to Knoxville, he served as running backs coach at Baylor and as wide receivers coach at TCU and Southwestern Louisiana.

Stephens and Washington have contracts that run through June.

Tennessee is expected to announce former Ole Miss head man David Cutcliffe as the new offensive coordinator on Monday, then begin seeking replacements for Stephens and Washington immediately thereafter.

Former Vol Thomas "T.D." Woods is seen as a leading contender to replace Washington. Woods served as Cutcliffe's receivers coach at Ole Miss during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Another attractive option would be hiring Alabama aide Sparky Woods as running backs coach and moving Trooper Taylor from running backs to wide receivers. Woods' son, Casey, is the holder for Vol placements and a backup receiver.

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