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Tennessee’s football coach fights tears after firing

Phillip Fulmer forced out after 17 years

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – An emotional Phillip Fulmer, with his wife at his side and tearful, angry players surrounding him, announced Monday that he accepted Tennessee’s decision that this will be his last season as the Volunteers coach.

Fulmer, 58, is being forced out after 17 years as Tennessee’s coach, a run that included a national championship. He has a 150-51 record with the Vols, including the 1998 NCAA title, the school’s first since 1951.

“This is not an easy day for me or my family. It is not a day that I sought or accepted easily,” said Fulmer, his voice cracking as he fought back tears standing next to his wife, Vicky.

“Our Tennessee family is united in its goals, but divided in the right path to get there. I love Tennessee too much to let her stay divided. That is why I accept the university’s decision that this will be my last season as Tennessee’s football coach.”

The Vols fell on hard times this season and were just 3-6, including 1-5 in the SEC after a 27-6 loss at South Carolina on Saturday.

Fulmer signed a new seven-year contract in the summer which was worth $2.4 million this season. He will receive $6 million as a buyout of the contract, payable over a 48-month period.

He is the nation’s third-winningest active coach among coaches with 10 years of experience, trailing only Florida’s State’s Bobby Bowden and Penn State’s Joe Paterno.

Dubbed the dean of the SEC coaches for his long tenure, Fulmer and his teams won two conference titles and seven divisional crowns.

Athletic director Mike Hamilton said Fulmer was asked to stay with the program in an administrative capacity, but Fulmer said he has not decided what he will do next.

“This is sad day for the Tennessee family,” Indianapolis Colts quarterback and former Tennessee standout Peyton Manning said. “His legacy at Tennessee will be that he built men and won championships. He will always be my coach.”

Toledo coach on way out

TOLEDO, Ohio – Tom Amstutz will resign after the season as the coach of Toledo, which is heading for a third straight losing year.

Toledo is 2-6, but one of its wins came at Michigan. The Rockets have lost two in a row since beating the Wolverines. They fell 41-16 at Arizona on Sept. 6.

Amstutz is 57-38 in eight years at Toledo. He’s taken the Rockets to four bowl games and two Mid-American Conference championships. He said at a news conference Monday he will work in the university’s alumni office.

Sooners DE injured

NORMAN, Okla. – Defensive end Auston English could miss the next two games for sixth-ranked Oklahoma after spraining his left knee.

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