October 02, 2008
Johnny Majors isn't exactly a coach emeritus at Tennessee, and certainly has never been shy about needling his old assistant, Phil Fulmer, who may or may not have helped push the old Volunteer out the door in the middle of the 1992 season, less than two years removed from back-to-back SEC championships. But he's not bitter or anything. As the flames are rising around Fulmer, Johnny Majors promises he would never compare his situation to Fulmer's. Certainly not with reporters, at a public forum.
“I wouldn’t put myself in comparison with Phillip Fulmer on anything. I’m above that.”
Sixteen years after his dismissal, Majors is living in Knoxville again, right across the street from where he lived as a coach. But he's too wise to go on living in the past, churning up old grudges.
“You mean the season of my ignominious demise?” Majors said with a grin. “The season when, while I was recovering from my heart surgery, a few people whom I won’t name were operating on my back.”
He's far too big a man in his waning years to go around spreading rumors about the current discontent over Tennessee's 1-3 start, or suggest something like, say, that Fulmer was riding his mentor's coattails for years.
“I’m not going to say what I hear,” Majors said. “I’m not going to get into that. I have nothing to offer. I’m not in a supervisory position. But they (Fulmer’s staff) had success early because of the program we left them.”
And certainly Majors is too savvy after a lifetime in the spotlight and his own experience on the hot seat to ever be caught on the record saying Fulmer's time has passed, his number's up, his best days are behind him, he's resting on his laurels or he should be booted onto the first train out of Tennessee.
Said the former coach: “Frankly, I think (defensive coordinator) John Chavis has saved his job for 10 years.”
When you've been around as long as Johnny Majors, you just don't do that sort of thing. You understand it's best to just stay out of it, and let the chips fall where they may.
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Photo of Majors circa 1991 vis US Presswire.