Tampa, FL (RELEASE) - But he says this Outback Bowl group of Volunteers has taken everything in stride since the announcement two weeks ago that assistant head coach and offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe had taken the head coaching position at Duke. And the follow-up that assistant head coach and receivers coach Trooper Taylor is leaving for Oklahoma State -- also not an issue.
Add to that the disappointment of missing a few key players for academic reasons, along with daily dignitary visits to the University of Tampa practice facility, and the Vols have faced a bowl week full of potential disturbances.
“You guys have been around me enough to know I hate distractions,” Fulmer said. “I hate things that disrupt the normal routine of our preparation.
“But this team has gone through a lot during the course of the year. They’ve listened well and, although some of those things have added to the challenge, I feel they’ve stayed the course and not let them become even more of a distraction.”
The Vols coach says the same has been true during what could have become a distressing December.
“The only way I know for sure is how they practice,” Fulmer said. “I watch the practice film, I watch every bit of it, and they have done a good job of practicing and preparing for this football game.”
Fulmer also said the close-knit bond of the coaching staff has made a difference.
“They are such professional people and it goes beyond being professional. It goes into great friendships. It would be really easy for the coaches to be distracted if they weren’t careful.
“Obviously, David Cutcliffe cares so much about this program, this staff, these kids and me, that he has really stayed on task to do what we need to do to get ourselves ready. So I don’t see that as being any kind of reason for us not to play well. Hopefully, we’ll go and play our best football game.”
Kickoff for the Vols and Wisconsin is 11 a.m. Eastern time at Raymond James Stadium (ESPN and Vol Network).
InSIDe the Vols -- Former Tennessee assistant coach Jimmy Dunn attended Sunday’s practice ... Dunn, a Tampa native, served as an offensive backs coach for the Vols from 1964-69.
Story Courtesy: UT Sports Information