2. The two coaches could easily be the next "Sonny and Wimp." Their impromptu responses to audience questions were as humorous and witty as anything Neil Simon ever wrote for the Odd Couple movie or series. Two particularly funny responses occurred when Joe Fisher asked Coach Johnson about life without Jay Cutler. Coach Johnson acted surprised that Cutler wouldn't be back again this year and his _expression of "shock" brought the audience to stitches. Acting like a seasoned comedian with perfect timing, Coach Fulmer told the audience that "Bobby couldn't afford Cutler now," (lots of laughter) to which CBJ immediately fired back, "We'd have to have your budget" (more laughter). I thought Fisher and Bob Kesling were going to fall off their seats they laughed so hard.
3. Coach Fulmer was asked about the three new assistant coaches after many years of maintaining the status quo. "We've been very blessed to have continuity in our coaching staff; it makes a difference in recruiting and it makes a difference when you go through different times of the year like from spring to fall. It was time that we did something. We weren't nearly as efficient offensively as we should have been. It turned out that David Cutcliffe was available. We're thrilled to have him back. We also felt like we needed some youthfulness and new ideas and Matt Luke and Kurt Roper brought that along with a familiarity to the system that David and I have run for a long time. I'm excited as can be with the results to this point of what we've done with our staff changes." You could see Coach Fulmer's facial _expression showing his excitement with his new staff; he looked as anxious to start this season as a young lad shows on Christmas morning waiting to tear into those presents.
4. Both Coaches were asked to name their most memorable moment in their head coaching careers. Coach Fulmer immediately mentioned the 1998 National Championship team and the Fiesta Bowl victory over Florida State. He also mentioned the 1994 team turning things around after losing three of their first four games. After losing fifth year senior quarterback Jerry Colquitt just one series (seven plays) into his only shot to be the starting quarterback after sitting for three years behind Heath Shuler, and after a short shot by future Major League Baseball star Todd Helton, freshman Peyton Manning eventually emerged as the starter and directed the Vols to seven wins in eight games down the stretch starting with a narrow win over Washington State. That propelled them to a number two finish and 11-1 record a year later.
Coach Johnson replied, "I've been coaching for 31 years, so there are a lot of great memories. I always think in terms of where you are now. We had some great wins this past year because we had struggled my first few years here. You see those guys working extremely hard to get better and make something happen in the program. We went to Wake Forest and expected to win that game. We went to Arkansas and played very well in a hostile situation. One of my top moments was the Arkansas win when those guys realized that we had gone against a school that had a great tradition, great fans, and a pretty good football team, and we won in some adverse circumstances. The Tennessee game at the end was a great win against a great program. You knew you had really done something with a win like that."
5. Many readers here may not remember or know that Coach Fulmer was once an assistant coach at Vanderbilt, serving on the staff of George MacIntyre in 1979. His comments were very complimentary of the Commodores' program. "I spent a year at Vanderbilt and enjoyed the heck out of it because of the type of young men that were there."
6. When asked about donating to Coach Johnson the game films of the Tennessee-Michigan Citrus Bowl victory five years ago, Coach Fulmer replied in the affirmative but indicated that Vanderbilt would need Jason Witten (Witten caught five passes for 125 yards and a score, forcing the Wolverines to concentrate both of their safeties on him. That opened the outside for Vol quarterback Casey Clausen to repeatedly find Kelley Washington and Donte Stallworth, who combined for 14 receptions for 189 yards and two scores). Coach Johnson revealed that he had never witnessed as much help within a conference as the 12 coaches of the SEC enjoyed. He told the audience that every coach can talk to every other coach about a non-conference opponent and get lots of valuable information; that's not always true in other conferences. He also noted that when rules changes and other issues come up nationally, the 12 SEC coaches almost always unite in agreement before issuing public statements.
7. One final humorous quote occurred when Coach Fulmer was asked about Heath Shuler's attempt in North Carolina to win a seat in the United States House of Representatives. Fulmer revealed that Shuler hit him up for a very big donation.