Who has the hottest seat in the SEC? It isnâ€™t the usual suspects like Sly Croom or whoever has the misfortune of coaching Vandy or Kentucky. No, the hottest chairs in the conference reside in Knoxville and Auburn.
Tennessee hasnâ€™t won a conference title since 1998. While Alabama has spent years in the wilderness, Alabama has actually won a conference crown more recently (1999). Combine mediocre records over the last few seasons, with a dismal recruiting class, and fans should be ready to throw the bum out of Knoxville.
Of course, Fulmer and his staff should get credit for salvaging the 2007 season. Following the Vols loss to Alabama, Fulmer didnâ€™t lose a game until the conference title match.
However, the discontent is growing louder every day. With this recruiting class debacle (Tennessee finished 36th in Rivals rankings), and other Fulmer mistakes on the recruiting trailâ€”fans are upset. Tennesseeâ€™s failure to secure Memphis could mean Ole Miss, Arkansas and Alabama once again dominate the talent-rich area. Fulmer seems tone deaf at how to effectively recruit that part of Tennessee. Without the Means scandal, Fulmer really doesnâ€™t have an excuse, but he seems ineffective. This could be a big part of Fulmerâ€™s downfall.
Auburn fans were gassing up Bobby Lowderâ€™s jet after the losses to South Florida and Mississippi Stateâ€”starting the season 1-2 sent the Tiger faithful into pandemonium. Then Tuberville flirted with Texas A&M. Then Tuberville flirted with Arkansas. His people went so far as to apparently leak the story he had accepted the Arkansas job to a television station.
Tuberville stayed at Auburn, but he burned bridges and irritated his support base.
Also, Tuberville was lazy on the recruiting trail.
The best proof of that comes from the Mobile Press-Register:
Vigor coach Kerry Stevenson said Auburn has reaped the benefits from Alabama’s lack of effort in the Mobile area in recent years — a situation that Saban has changed drastically, often with personal appearances.
“Auburn hadn’t been doing an incredible job of recruiting, it’s just that they had been recruiting,” Stevenson said. “(Auburn assistant) James Willis can’t outrecruit Nick Saban. Coach (Tommy) Tuberville is going to have to get more involved to have success in this area.”
That seems unlikely. It’ll cut into his hunting and shopping time.
Ultimately, both fan bases have turned or have begun to turn on the coaches. It is only a matter of time until the mob is fever pitch on both campuses.
The difference in Fulmer and Tuberville is that Fulmerâ€™s leadership at Tennessee appears to like the coach. Tuberville is despised by the powerful boosters on the Plains.
That makes Tuberville the more likely candidate to get the boot first.