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Phillip Fulmer, Gary Anderson reportedly Kentucky coaching candidates

Utah State and former Tennessee coach are intriguing candidates as school tries to move on from Joker Phillips.


Utah State coach Gary Anderson and former Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer are possible candidates for the Kentucky head coaching job, according to Kyle Tucker of the Louisville Courier-Journal. Anderson has guided Utah State to an 8-2 record this season, after leading the Aggies on a 7-6 campaign in 2011. Fulmer coached at Tennessee for 17 years and compiled a 152-52 record with the Vols. Tennessee won the national championship during his tenure in 1998.

"Some of you won't want to hear this," Tucker wrote, "but Phil Fulmer, although not atop the list, is in play for the UK opening."

Fulmer has had kind words to say about the Kentucky program in recent weeks. More than anything, he seemed convinced of the school's potential to field a competitive SEC football team.

"My feeling on it would be they have great potential, being in the Southeastern Conference and obviously having just a great history in basketball," Fulmer said in early November. "When I brought Tennessee teams in there it was always wild and a tough place to play."

It's unclear how far Kentucky is in its coaching search at the moment. Tucker also wrote that a number of NFL coaching names have appeared on the radar for the job.

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Additional commentary by Glenn Logan

Like most Kentucky fans, I am far from reflexively enamored of either of these two men, but let's take a quick look at Gary Anderson of Utah State.

Anderson came up from the high school ranks as a head coach of Park City High School in Utah, one of the better high schools in the USA. He then moved on to assistants jobs at Northern Arizona and Utah, where he eventually became the defensive coordinator. He parlayed that success into a head coaching position at Southern Utah for one season, and despite only a 4-7 season there, he was offered the head job at Utah State Aggies of the WAC.

Anderson's first two seasons at Utah St. were 4-8, but last year he was 7-6 and is currently 8-2, although they face 9-1 Louisiana Tech this weekend. Anderson runs a spread offense, considered by many to be a powerful one, and that fact suggests that Tucker's sources are probably sound. I have had the feeling all along that Barnhart is looking for a powerful, fast offense, and the spread option has that reputation in college football.

While Anderson has done a fine job at Utah St., he's spent his whole coaching life out west, which suggests to me that his inclusion is the result of Mitch Barnhart's western connections. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that Rich Brooks brought Anderson to the attention of Barnhart, either, although that is pure speculation on my part -- I have no evidence whatsoever that Brooks is even in the loop to any extent with this search.

Phillip Fulmer is a known quantity to Kentucky fans, and it's not surprising to see him considered. His name will not excite UK fans in any way, shape, or form, and even though he has a national championship ring, his later years at Tennessee were really uninspiring. Unfortunately for the Volunteers, they are even worse off now than when Fulmer was coach there.

Kentucky fans would see Fulmer as a stopgap retread, much as they saw Rich Brooks. It's possible that a Fulmer administration would be very similar in character to Brooks', and although he's not the least exciting pick possible, he certainly isn't going to inspire an immediate demand for tickets. He is too much of a known commodity, much more familiar to Kentucky fans than Brooks was.

Anderson intrigues me a little bit. I like the idea of the spread being run here, even though that will tend to constrict our choices at quarterback, as spread options are not normally run best by pro-style quarterbacks. The thing is, though, that the spread might be a better fit for UK than the West Coast or other pro-style offense, because we tend to get a lot of option type quarterbacks as athletes that most schools won't give a shot at the position, but rather want them to play in the defensive backfield or wide receiver.

I have come to believe that the spread, or some derivation of it, may be the best possible offense for a school like Kentucky because of they type of players we get here. Given the candidates under consideration (excluding Fulmer and Smart), I'd say Barnhart is thinking along the same lines.