Phillip Fulmer to Arkansas? Former assistant says they’re talking

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Like Jon Gruden, no coaching search would be complete unless Phillip Fulmer‘s name came up at least in passing.

The former Tennessee coach has now been added to the ever-growing list of potential replacements for the fired Bobby Petrino, along with the likes of Gary Patterson and Gus MalzahnRumors connecting Fulmer to the vacant job have been circulating for a few days, but the former Vol does have one thing other coaching candidates do not: immediate availability.

And, apparently, Fulmer’s more than a name tossed into the hat.

I know Phillip has had conversations with them,” former UT assistant Doug Matthews told WGFX-FM in Knoxville. “And when I say with them, all that is going to take place behind the scenes.

“But everything I’m hearing from Arkansas is the spring game, I think, is this Saturday. ‘Let’s get through spring. Let’s see where we are.’ But I think they’ll either go with a guy that they’ve got on the staff or they’ll bring in someone to be — caretaker’s the wrong word — but bring someone in who has been through it all before.

“If there is a place for Phillip, that will be the place.”

For the record, Fulmer has denied being contacted by UA. Additionally, Garrick McGee‘s name has come up as well. So has… wait for it… Pete Carroll.

Fulmer, 61, has been out of the coaching gig for a few years now and was briefly associated with the Tennessee athletic director position. He still has some miles in the tank, but what Arkansas needs to decide is if they want an immediate replacement — Fulmer would certainly give them that option, and in all likelihood, would not change the coaching staff — or a search in seven or eight months down the road.

Given the way athletic director Jeff Long has handled this situation so far — that is to say he’s handled it well — my guess would be the latter option.

Which is good, because I don’t know how many more candidates the rumor mill can continue to spew out.