"I haven't closed the door," Fulmer said. "I haven't closed the door on anything."
Walk-on quarterback Jim Bob Cooter was arrested on a DUI charge several months ago but only incurred a suspension. Thus, Smith's dismissal for a similar charge would seem less than fair. Fulmer acknowledged there was more involved in the Smith case than the DUI arrest, however.
In addition, the coach said penalties vary because situations vary.
"Each case is different," he said. "You look at each case differently: Do they have any history? How's the attitude been? Have they had any other issues or academics? All of those things."
Smith was the second Vol disciplined this week. Three days earlier redshirt freshman cornerback Marsalous Johnson was arrested for allegedly waving a pellet gun at an off-duty policeman. Johnson has been suspended for at least the first four games, pending the outcome of his legal matter. Although Fulmer conceded that disciplinary problems are "a pain in the butt," he says they are a part of the world we live in.
"Our society is full of those kinds of issues," he said. "Our schools. Our families. Our businesses. You've got CEOs that are being put in prison for different things. That's just the way it is. You deal with it, put it behind you and go on."
At one point, the coach quipped, "Let's talk about the GOOD guys!" Clearly, he prefers discussing the many players who follow the rules, rather than the few who break them.
"I'm looking forward, not backwards," Fulmer said. "We're going to coach the ones that are here, and not worry about the ones that don't want to be here, as far as an immature mistake or an inconsiderate thing. I'm excited about the ones that are doing the right things."