Lawyer Phil?

Before he picked up a coaches' whistle, Phillip Fulmer laid down the law ... literally. Shortly after completing his career as a University of Tennessee football player, he began studying law as a UT grad student.

Then came a fateful meeting with Vol head coach Bill Battle that would change the course of Fulmer's career and his life. Battle asked Fulmer to help out with team preparations for the 1972 season.

"One thing led to another," Fulmer noted on a recent episode of SportSouth's "Head Coach" television show. "I fell in love with coaching. I was around some guys that were special."

Suddenly, Fulmer was more concerned with passing the NCAA coaching exam than passing the bar. The rest, as they say, is history.

"I thought I was going to be a lawyer," he told SportSouth's Doug Malousis. "I ended up spending more time over here (the football complex) than I did at the Law Library, so I ended up being a football coach."

Asked whatever possessed him to study law, Fulmer replied: "I thought law school would be a good avenue that you could go a lot of directions with."

As fate would have it, the only direction that mattered was the one that led to Neyland Stadium.

After serving as a student coach at Tennessee in 1972 and '73, Fulmer was hooked. So, when Jim Wright left the Vol staff to become head man at Wichita State in 1974, he asked Fulmer to join him as a full-time staff member. Fulmer will never forget his response to the offer:

"You're going to PAY me to coach football?"

After five years at Wichita State and one at Vanderbilt, Fulmer returned to his alma mater in 1980 as offensive line coach. He eventually moved up to offensive coordinator in 1989, interim coach in 1992 and head coach in 1993.

The hour-long "Head Coach" episode profiling Fulmer offers some interesting insights on the Vols' veteran skipper. To learn when it will air in your area, go to www.headcoach.tv.


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