Interviewed for a recent episode of the "Head Coach" television series, Fulmer suggested that the Vols "had maybe our best team" in 2001.
That '01 squad beat Florida 34-32 in Steve Spurrier's final home game at The Swamp to cap an 11-1 regular season. One step from facing Miami in the Rose Bowl for the national title, however, the 2001 Vols lost 31-20 to Nick Saban's LSU Tigers in the SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome. Tennessee then bounced back to annihilate Michigan 45-17 in the Citrus Bowl.
Fulmer says he learned a lot from that season, in spite of the gut-wrenching evening at the Georgia Dome, just as he learned a lot from the national championship season of 1998.
"You learn from the great experiences you have," he told Head Coach host Doug Malousis. "I learned a lot about ourselves in '98, when we won the national championship. Or 2001, when we had maybe our best team, really. But I also learned a lot about ourselves (while going 5-6 in 2005)."
Asked what specifically he learned about his program from the '98 national title, Fulmer smiled as he replied:
"The next time we do it – and we WILL hold that trophy up again – I'm going to take some time and enjoy it."