Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer and his wife, Vicky, wave to fans as they leave the field after Tennessee beat Vanderbilt 20-10 in an NCAA college football game in Nashville, Tenn., Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
According to the National Football Foundation, nearly 4.86 million people in the past 143 years have played or coached college football and .0002 percent have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
You soon can count former University of Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer among them.
Fulmer, who guided the Volunteers to a 152-52 record from 1992 to 2008 and led them to the 1998 national title, was announced Tuesday as a Hall of Fame class of 2012 inductee. R.C. Slocum, who coached Texas A&M from 1989 to 2002, and Jimmy Johnson, who coached Oklahoma State from 1979 to '83 and Miami from 1984 to '88, are the other coaches who will be enshrined.
"I am obviously elated to join such an elite group of coaches and players," Fulmer said. "It's just a real honor, and you feel grateful to a lot of people, starting with my family. My wife and my children made some considerable sacrifices, because we did not do it as a job but as a lifestyle for our family.
"I'm grateful to a whole group of loyal coaches and great friends of mine -- David Cutcliffe, John Chavis, Dan Brooks, Steve Caldwell -- I shouldn't start naming names because there were so many, and I would leave somebody out."
The 14 players to be inducted are LSU tailback Charles Alexander (1975-78), California quarterback Steve Bartkowski (1972-74), Notre Dame tight end Dave Casper (1971-73), Brigham Young quarterback Ty Detmer (1988-91), Syracuse wide receiver Art Monk (1976-79) and UCLA tackle Jonathan Ogden (1992-95).
Alexander and Fulmer are this year's lone inductees from the Southeastern Conference. SEC players who were nominated include Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel (1993-96), Alabama linebacker Derrick Thomas (1985-88), Tennessee receiver Willie Gault (1979-82) and Georgia cornerback Scott Woerner (1977-80).
"Each year the selection process becomes increasingly more difficult," Hall of Fame chairman Archie Manning said, "but [former ACC commissioner] Gene Corrigan and the Honors Court do an amazing job of selecting a diverse group of the most amazing players and coaches in our sport's rich history. This class is certainly no exception."
The induction ceremony will take place Dec. 4 at the National Football Foundation's Awards Dinner in New York City. The inductees will be honored guests at the next Sugar Bowl and will be enshrined in the summer of 2013.
Fulmer led Tennessee to two SEC championships and five SEC East Division titles, and his '98 Vols won the first national title under the Bowl Championship Series format. He was a first-ballot inductee and was flooded with congratulatory calls, including ones from Doug Dickey and Bill Battle, the two head coaches he played for at Tennessee.
"I didn't know what to expect," Fulmer said. "Everybody was telling me that it's difficult to get in on the first ballot, so that just makes you feel that much better about what you accomplished. We had so many great players and won a lot of games, but we did it the right way. We didn't cheat. We looked out for the players from a growth standpoint.
"We had a family atmosphere, and I'm as proud of that as what we accomplished on the field."
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...