Fulmer wasn't sure he was ready

Phillip Fulmer was the picture of poise when he assumed control of the University of Tennessee football program in 1993. He appeared to be overflowing with confidence. Of course, appearances can be deceiving.

In an interview conducted as part of the "Head Coach" TV show, Fulmer told executive producer Doug Malousis that he wasn't quite sure what to expect when he succeeded Johnny Majors as the Big Orange head man in the fall of '93. He knew one thing, though: A good start was essential.

"Any business that you're in," he said, "those early stages of your career are very, very important (because) you lay that foundation and everything."

Majors' abrupt dismissal in '92 thrust the job on Phillip Fulmer under less-than-ideal circumstances. Fulmer, who had served as acting head coach the first three games of 1992 while Majors was recovering from open-heart surgery, assumed the reins on a permanent basis prior to the Vols' Hall of Fame Bowl game against Boston College. Tennessee won 36-23 that day, and Fulmer was on his way.

"I never really knew I'd have the chance to be a head coach, particularly at a place like this," he said. "As it's turned out, it was a great opportunity for me.

"I didn't know that I was ready but I WAS ready, and darned if we haven't made a pretty good career of it."

Majors had elevated Tennessee football to a pretty high level at the time of his departure. Even so, Fulmer immediately announced his intention to take the program still higher.

"We talked about taking it to the next level," he said. "And we were able to do that ... to win a national championship in our sixth year."

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