Fulmer to Louisville? Don't count on it

August, 25, 2009
8/25/09
4:00
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

Bruce Feldman takes a look at former Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer and his possible future today, and he brings up a couple of items written in the last week mentioning Fulmer as a potential fit at Louisville. Both Tony Barnhart of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and David Climer of the Tennessean mentioned this idea.

First of all, let's be clear that the Cardinals already have a coach. Yes, Steve Kragthorpe has struggled to an 11-13 record his first two years, and this season may not be much better. But athletic director Tom Jurich is going to give him every chance to succeed, because he believes in Kragthorpe. I think there's a very good chance Kragthorpe returns next year even if the Cardinals fail to make a bowl this season.

So even speculating about a Kragthorpe replacement at this point is just unfair. And even if a change were to be made, I don't see Fulmer as a good fit.

Jurich has always tried to hire either a hot name or an up-and-comer for all of his programs. Look at his three previous football coaching hires at Louisville: John L. Smith, a relative unknown who had coached at Idaho and Utah State; Bobby Petrino, who'd never been a head coach but was a hotshot coordinator; and Kragthorpe, who was known for engineering one of the great turnarounds of all time at Tulsa.

Jurich has done the same with his other programs, hiring a Maryland assistant as women's basketball coach in Jeff Walz, who led the Cardinals to a national title game appearance this past season; and a first-time head coach but longtime assistant in baseball, where Dan McDonnell took Louisville to its first College World Series his debut season. Even in men's basketball, Jurich went out and got the biggest name he could find: Rick Pitino.

So why, if Jurich were to need a new football coach, would he go with Fulmer? Fulmer's best days were clearly behind him at Tennessee and he is approaching the end of his career, not the beginning. His teams weren't known for an exciting style of offense in recent years, which is something Jurich values. And he doesn't have the personality to re-energize the fan base.

Granted, Louisville might not be as plum a job as it was a few years ago from a national perception. But don't expect Jurich to settle for a re-tread, even one who has a national title ring.

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