Phillip Fulmer finding freedom away from coaching - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Phillip Fulmer finding freedom away from coaching

CLEVELAND, Tenn. (WRCB) -- Phillip Fulmer shared smiles and hugs with a special group of students from the Trousdale School Monday afternoon at Cleveland Country Club.

The former University of Tennessee head coach was the marquee attraction at the annual golf tournament fund-raiser for school that provides further education for young people with intellectual disabilities, though he disagreed.

Fulmer said he was the one blessed to spend the day meeting the students and helping a cause started by his former teammate, Tom Johnson.

It's an experience he may not have been able to enjoy if he was still a college coach.

"I've really enjoyed my schedule because it's just that, mine," Fulmer said. "I'm obligated to family and to my business, but I also get to enjoy doing things like this."

Since leaving Tennessee, Fulmer has always said he would like to get back into coaching if he found "the right fit."

However, it's become increasingly clear to the college football hall of famer that "right fit" for his future may no longer be on the sideline.

The flexibility and freedom he know enjoys is a main reason Fulmer turned down an offer to be head coach of East Tennessee State's start-up football program two weeks ago.

"When you get back into something like that, you realize again that it's a full-time thing on a whole different level," Fulmer said of getting back into coaching. "But it certainly is attractive and it's one of those things you have to think about."

While he turned down the head coaching position, Fulmer did agree to serve as a consultant for the Bucs as the bring back their football program.

The position gives him a chance to get back into the game, but in a more fluid role.

"We're still determining (the specific focus of his role)," Fulmer said. "But as we get into interviewing coaches and talking about building facilities, I feel like I will definitely bring some value.

"Plus I can help give them some name presence on the national level."

In the meantime, Fulmer is happy to use his presence locally around East Tennessee to celebrate causes close to his heart.

Among them is the Trousdale School, which welcomed Fulmer with open arms, warm hearts and bright orange shirts.

"I'm always interested in anything that helps young people or the elderly, and this is one of those special opportunities," Fulmer said. "It's a chance to help by friend and former teammate, Tom Johnson, who basically built this place up.

"I'm glad to be back in the Cleveland community, and hopefully I can help raise some awareness and a little bit of money along the way."

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