College Football: Bowden, Tuberville, Fulmer ponder options
Scripps Howard News Service
With the 2009 college football season quickly approaching, I find it hard to believe Tommy Bowden, Tommy Tuberville and Phil Fulmer won’t be roaming sidelines this year.
Covering football in the South, those names, with 362 career victories among them, have been staples this decade and beyond.
Now, Bowden and Tuberville are working as college football analysts for a Web site while Fulmer is catching up on some hunting and fishing.
So, here’s the glaring question: When will we see them back in the game?
It’s hard to imagine any of them sitting on the couch too long. Bowden had a sour ending with Clemson in midseason, Tuberville had enough of the wishy-washiness of the Auburn administration and Fulmer just lost respect as head coach at Tennessee.
So, what are their options?
College football has seen coaches who have been fired or stepped down under tumultuous circumstances rise from the ashes.
Believe it or not, Lou Holtz was run out of Arkansas in 1983 only to win a national title with Notre Dame five years later after a brief stop at Minnesota.
Ron Zook had to follow Steve Spurrier at Florida and couldn’t please Gator Nation nearly enough. He was ousted after only three seasons but rebounded with Illinois, leading the Illini to the Rose Bowl in 2007.
But for every Zook and Holtz, there’s a Tyrone Willingham, who’s been fired from his last two stops ó Notre Dame and Washington.
Former Georgia coach Jim Donnan wasn’t well received in Athens and was let go in 2000. However, he’s made a nice name for himself doing analyst work for ESPN and is one of the more knowledgeable talking heads on that network.
Bob Davie’s tenure from 1997-2001 at Notre Dame was a disaster, leading to him stepping down after an 0-3 start his last season before he could be fired. Davie can now be heard every fall Saturday doing a game for ABC or ESPN.
There’s also the route fired coaches Chan Gailey of Georgia Tech and Mike Shula of Alabama took, which is working as assistants in the NFL. However, neither of the “Big 3” have the pro experience of Gailey (former Dallas Cowboy head coach) or last name of Shula (father Don is an NFL legend).
But, there’s one more working option, which might not be as bad as it sounds.
Clemson fired Ken Hatfield in 1993, despite a 32-13-1 record in four seasons. The former Arkansas coach never made it back to a big-time university, instead settling in at Rice, where he coached for 12 years.
He won only one league title and had to ride off into the sunset after a 1-10 season in 2005.
However, he got to coach again, something I’m sure all three are itching to do this time of year.
So, maybe Bowden, Tuberville and Fulmer will be back in the game by 2010.
But, I guess I shouldn’t feel too sorry for them.
At least they’ve got options. And some nice buyout bucks.