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January 16, 2013Terry Fair was never at home as a member of the media -- so much so that he never really considered himself a member of the media.
Now, under new Tennessee coach Butch Jones, Fair has found a home back in coaching and back at home with the Tennessee football program, serving as a quality control coach on the defensive staff.
"This is home for me being on this side," Fair said last week, when he met with the media as a coach, not a colleague. "I've always envisioned myself being a coach. If not at the University of Tennessee then somewhere else."
Before joining Jones and re-joining the Vols, Fair hosted 'The Drive' on Knoxville's WNOX in the last stop of his media career.
"It was rough being on the radio every day and especially here with the way things have been going over the last couple of years," Fair said. "The calls and the negativity that you had to talk about on a day-to-day basis was not what I envisioned when I went in to radio."
Negativity certainly wasn't something Fair had to deal with during his playing career at Tennessee.
He was a four-year starter at defensive back for the Vols from 1994-1997, including Freshman All-SEC honors in '94 and a two-time All-SEC defensive back in '96 and '97.
"This being my alma mater, those things really hurt you as a former player," Fair said of the Tennessee's criticisms among sports-talk radio callers. "As former players we always talk about that and we want to see it get back to prominence."
Serving as an intern of the defensive staff isn't Fair's first stop as a coach, though.
He spent three years as a member of the coaching staff at Phoenix College after wrapping up his NFL career.
Fair was a first-round pick of the Detroit Lions (20th overall) in the 1998 NFL Draft before making stops with the Carolina Panthers and St. Louis Rams during his six years in professional football.
Fair said he's still feeling out what exactly his role will be with the Vols.
As a quality control coach, Fair won't be able to recruit off campus or make phone calls to recruits. He's also not allowed to be a sideline coach on game days or do any direct coaching on the practice field.
"My role is to assist," Fair said. "I am going to be working with the defense and, of course, (defensive backs coach) Willie Martinez in the secondary."
But first and foremost, it's about learning on the job in his return to coaching.
"I am going to be learning from everyone," Fair said. "This is my first year on the job, so anything I can take, any information that I can get from them, I keep my notepad and notebook with me.
"I'm all about learning right now."