What's next for Fulmer?

As Tennessee's football program was going 5-6 in 2005 a fellow media type assured me that head coach Phillip Fulmer would be replaced at season's end by Steve Kragthorpe, then a rising star at Tulsa.

Four years later, Kragthorpe is rumored to be on the way out at Louisville ... with Fulmer's name being mentioned as a potential successor.

What goes around comes around, doesn't it?

Regardless, Fulmer expects to be coaching somewhere in 2010, so here's a look at four jobs that might be vacant in another couple of months:

COLORADO

Dan Hawkins stands 1-4 this fall and 14-28 in 3-plus years at Boulder after suffering a 38-14 loss to Texas over the weekend. The 2009 Buffaloes previously lost 23-17 to Colorado State, 54-38 to Toledo and 35-24 to West Virginia. Their only win this season was a 24-0 defeat of Wyoming. Hawkins, who enjoyed great success at Boise State prior to taking the Colorado job, went 2-10 in 2006, 6-7 in 2007 and 5-7 in 2008.

Comment: Fulmer has made clear that he'll only coach a program where there's a commitment to excellence. Colorado was a quality program in the past and could be again, even though it competes in the same conference with tradition-rich teams such as Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska. Like the SEC, the Big 12 is a football-driven conference with great rivalries and prestige.

LOUISVILLE

Kragthorpe stands 2-3 this fall and 13-16 in 2-plus years at Louisville after nipping Southern Miss 25-23 on Saturday. The Cardinals previously lost 31-27 to Kentucky, 31-14 to Utah and 35-10 to Pittsburgh. Their only win prior to beating Southern Miss was a 30-10 defeat of Indiana State in Game 1. Coming off considerable success at Tulsa, Kragthorpe assumed the Lousville reins when Bobby Petrino jumped to the NFL. Kragthorpe's 2007 team went 6-6 and his 2008 squad went 5-7.

Comment: Supposedly, former Auburn head man Tommy Tuberville has the inside track if Kragthorpe is shown the door. Still, Fulmer's knack for recruiting nationally would make him a good fit at a school located in Kentucky, whose high school talent pool is similar to that of Tennessee.

VIRGINIA

Al Groh stands 2-3 this fall and 58-47 at Charlottesville after thumping Indiana 47-7 on Saturday. The heat on Groh peaked when his Cavaliers lost their last four games of 2008 and their first three of 2009. The '09 season began with setbacks against William & Mary (26-14), TCU (30-14) and Southern Miss (37-34). UVa subsequently rallied to beat North Carolina (16-3) and Indiana the past two weeks. Groh's record since 2005 is just 21-21. He went 5-7 in 2006, 9-4 in 2007 and 5-7 in 2008 prior to the 2-3 start this season.

Comment: Fulmer recruited Virginia's prep ranks quite successfully during his UT tenure, bringing in such quality players as C.J. Fayton, Antwan Stuart, Marvin Mitchell, Jerod Mayo, Brent Vinson and Savion Frazier. He could do quite well in Charlottesville.

MEMPHIS

Tommy West stands 2-4 this fall and 49-55 in 8-plus seasons at Memphis after beating Texas-El Paso 35-20 on Saturday. The Tigers previously lost 45-14 to Ole Miss, 31-14 to Middle Tennessee, 27-16 to Marshall and 32-14 to Central Florida. Their lone victory prior to last weekend was a 41-14 defeat of UT-Martin in Game 3. West, a former UT tight end and assistant coach, stands just 17-26 over the past 3 1/2 seasons. He went 2-10 in 2006, 7-5 in 2007 and 6-7 in 2008 prior to this season's 2-4 start.

Comment: Given his relationship with Tommy West and the struggles he had getting the top players out of Memphis while at UT, Fulmer might not be interested even if the Tiger job comes open. Memphis has the potential to be a big winner, however, especially in a league as mediocre as Conference USA.


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