It’s been a long, long time since the Vols have beaten Alabama in football. The Crimson Tide have won 11 straight games against the Vols, and the last time Tennessee was able to beat them was during Phillip Fulmer’s time as head coach.
Now Fulmer is back in a position of power at UT as their Athletic Director. And one of his top goals is to make the Third Saturday in October an actual rivalry again.
Fulmer appeared on The Nation, a Sunday night call-in show on the Vol Network, to discuss his hiring of Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt as Tennessee’s head coach. He was asked about hiring Pruitt, an Alabama coach, when he has such a complicated and heated history with the Tide. But Fulmer said he didn’t let any of that get in the way of making what he thought was the best hire.
“I was looking for the best person, wherever they were in the country, and it narrowed itself down as we grinded through it,” Fulmer replied. “I think there’s a pretty good respect from a lot of people in Alabama of what we’ve done here at Tennessee in the past. I hope we can make them sweat again, once the Big Orange rolls out there again in the Third Saturday of October.
“There’s not better day than that. My goal is to be competitive in that game, and then we’ll be competitive in most all of them.”
Tennessee not only has lost 11 consecutive games against Alabama, but they’ve often been blown out by the Tide. Only three times in those 11 games has Tennessee kept the deficit within 20 points. The Vols lost 12-10 in 2009, 34-20 in 2014, and 19-14 in 2015. Every other loss has been by 20 points or more, and six of the 11 losses have come by 30 or more points.
The Vols have lost by an average score of 36 to 11.5 to Alabama during their losing streak. Tennessee has only scored 20 or more points once against Alabama in that span, and that was the 34-20 loss in 2014.
But those tables were turned when Fulmer was Tennessee’s head coach. The Vols were 10-5-1 against Alabama when Fulmer was head coach, and that included a seven-game winning streak against the Tide from 1995-2001. Tennessee’s last win against Alabama, which happened back in 2006, came with Fulmer as head coach and happened before Nick Saban took over as head coach.
Since Saban became Alabama’s head coach, the Tide have never lost to the Vols. And they’ve often dominated Tennessee in the process. But Fulmer wants to make this storied series a true rivalry once again, and he’s hoping Pruitt is the man to help do that.