After a good night's rest, the honeymoon period for newly appointed athletic director Phillip Fulmer is over.
No, Fulmer's 'clock' has not started yet, but time is of the essence for Fulmer and the Vols.
Tennessee needs a football coach. The current players need a leader and future players have to know what direction the program is going with 18 days until the early signing period.
In other words, there's time for cake and punch later at the Fulmer Welcome Home party. For now, there's work to be done. It's why Fulmer started his Saturday in the office making recruiting calls.
As Tennessee fans wake up this morning, most feel more comfortable in the future of Tennessee football. That comfort and confidence stems from the reality that Fulmer doesn't need to consult with anyone regarding what the Vol program needs or what it should look like.
“We were adults with them,” Fulmer said at the 1997 team celebration three weeks ago. “We held them accountable. We ended up their parent away from home. There was a respect that was established. A level of effort that was always expected. We didn't give in to whatever their music might have been. We were going to act like the adult in the room and they were going to respond to what we wanted to do. As we look forward, we need a great coach. We need a great leader. We need a great example for young people. That's how you do it here. I know it's how you do it here. That's how you do it at most places.”
Who can lead the program isn't the million dollar question. What qualified fit wants to lead it is.
As toxic as the week has been for the Tennessee fans, it's been a week no one has ever seen. Trust me when I say everyone has taken notice.
Everyone meaning — the coaching world.
Now, before everyone goes crazy on me on the General's Quarters, I'm not saying no one wants the job, but the view of the Tennessee job by candidates is different than it was a week ago. Candidates have wondered what's going on at Tennessee. Do they want to get into a fishbowl that's perceived by many as a hornet's nest?
But no one should panic.
Because the truth is that the view of the Tennessee job by possible hires is different today than it was Friday morning thanks to the arrival of Phillip Fulmer.
Fulmer brings stability for candidates. Fulmer brings knowledge of Tennessee, and most importantly for many possible candidates, Fulmer is a football guy.
The “football guy” notion shouldn't be underestimated. Any time Fulmer references his career he pays respect to his former boss Doug Dickey. Dickey, an old football coach, helped guide a young Fulmer through the peaks and valleys of being a head football coach.
Having a football guy as an athletic director is appealing to coaches. It provides them comfort.
So as Fulmer embarks on his first day, Tennessee fans continue to find comfort in the future of their program because of their confidence in the Hall of Famer.
Fulmer must create that comfort level with a coach that he believes is the right fit based on his intimate knowledge of all things Tennessee.
But Fulmer must do it quickly because the clocking is ticking and time is of the essence.
Welcome back to football, Coach.