Wed Sep 24 10:51am EDT
It's sounds like the walls are beginning to close in on Phil Fulmer, complete with those interlocking spikes like in Indiana Jones, and insult-covered rocks across from the street from the athletic center, etc. When the discontent gets that loud, that close to home, it's impossible to shield the players. So, like a jury instructed to disregard that last bombshell statement, you teach the kids to close ranks and look the other way.
Take receiver and sometimes shotgun runner Gerald Jones, who doesn't care what the fans and media are saying, even if he has a pretty strong grasp of it, anyway:
“You know who’s real fans when things go wrong,” said Jones, a sophomore. “There’s a lot of things that say, ‘Fire Fulmer’ and ‘Get (Jonathan) Crompton out of there and put Jones at quarterback’ or ‘the receivers can’t win one-on-one’ and ‘(tailback) Arian (Foster)’s not running physical.’ I’m not worried about that. They might as well be Florida fans because they’re saying the same exact thing.”
People are like, "Gerald Jones should be getting the ball more," and "Gerald Jones has so many sweet moves, and Crompton is too dumb to hit the side of a barn with a screen pass, why don't they just try to run Gerald Jones on every play?" and "Our offensive line is holier than Mother Teresa on draw plays," and "Damn, Gerald Jones so sexy, how can I get with that man?" But Gerald Jones doesn't listen to any of that. Gerald Jones is only worried about Tennessee.
Fulmer himself is more used to this sort of thing, which might be part of the problem at this point: it hurts at first, but eventually, you learn to ignore the screaming. The Knoxville News-Sentinel said Fulmer was asked what it would take for him to resign twice during his Monday call-in show, after the boos rained down for the second week in a row in the loss to Florida. "That comes with the territory," he said, which is true. And if the Vols fall to 1-3 Saturday against Auburn, will be more true than ever.