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Dr. Saturday

Phil Fulmer back in the game at East Tennessee State as a consultant, says he won’t coach

Frank Schwab
Dr. Saturday

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(USA Today Sports Images)

The appeal for Phillip Fulmer will grow. Coaches can rarely get coaching out of their blood.

Fulmer is getting back into college football. East Tennessee State hired him as a consultant and special assistant to athletic director Richard Sander. ETSU is bringing back football after it shut down the program in 2003.

Fulmer will not – repeat, not – coach the team. Got that?

"I never say never on anything, [but] it’s not likely,” Fulmer said, according to the Associated Press. “Nobody expects that, that I’ve talked to within the administration. I was really clear and frank, and they were grateful for that. That wasn’t the place in life that I wanted to be. It’s a great opportunity for somebody to come in and make their own legacy.”

It might be tough to stick with that plan.

ETSU has expressed its desire for Fulmer to coach its revived program, which will be in the FCS as soon as 2015. And that makes sense, considering Fulmer became a hall-of-fame coach and national champion at Tennessee. And if ETSU hasn't given up hope of Fulmer being its coach, it did well to get him in the building.

Once Fulmer is around football, helping to build the program, it will be tough to not feel the itch to go back to the sideline. After he was let go by the Volunteers he never resurfaced with another job. He has to have the confidence he could be a success. It would be very easy for him to take this job.

But no, he doesn't want to coach.

“When they approached me about being the coach, it was very flattering, but I’m just at a different stage in life where I’m enjoying my children and my grandchildren and I’m enjoying the business that I’m in with some partners I’m dedicated to as well,” Fulmer said, according to AP. “However I can help in this process, I will. I’m thrilled they’re talking about doing it the right way.”

There's no reason to disbelieve any of that, and it's hard to criticize anyone who wants to leave the grind of the coaching life behind. But keep an eye on the situation. Coaches can rarely just leave it all behind and never look back.

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