Torbush, Fulmer and Noland
Now that Carl Torbush is on the job as East Tennessee State’s new football coach, the real work is about to begin.
Phillip Fulmer will continue to play a role in that work as well.
Fulmer, who has spent the last couple of months as a special assistant to ETSU Athletic Director Richard Sander, will continue to help the new program, which is being resurrected after a 10-year absence.
Fulmer was brought on, in part, to help lure a coach to the school. Now that has been accomplished, and his latest duties have yet to be defined.
“I think some of that is to be determined,” Fulmer said Friday after Torbush was introduced as the 17th head football coach in ETSU history in front of a packed house in Millenium Centre’s ballroom. “I’ll help any way I can. There’s obviously facilities to build. There’s contacts to be made from a coaching standpoint. If Carl needs to talk about it ...”
Fulmer, who has been friends with Torbush for years, says the new coach won’t have to look over his shoulder. He won’t be getting any advice from the former Tennessee coach unless he asks.
“He’s the coach,” Fulmer said. “I’m only here to facilitate him having success and helping any way I can. I don’t intend to interfere in one way with any philosophical things that Carl believes in.
“I’ll be around. I won’t be here every week or every day. But I’ll certainly help every way I can.”
Torbush said he welcomes Fulmer’s involvement in the program.
“There is no question you all showed great wisdom in getting Phillip Fulmer involved,” Torbush said. “I can promise you Phil Fulmer can get in a lot more doors a lot quicker than Carl Torbush, Dr. Noland or Dr. Sander. So we’re gonna make sure we keep him active.”
Sander has alluded to the fact that whoever the new coach was would have to start the program from scratch. “We don’t even have a clipboard,” he said.
That scared away some good candidates for the job, he added.
“I think some of the folks, when we got in there and really talked about it, they realized this was a lot more than maybe they bargained for,” Sander said. “You could almost see it on their faces. When we saw that in a few of them, that raised some red flags for us. And we said maybe that’s not the right person for us. For some it was almost overwhelming.”
The entire ETSU administration seems to be in agreement that they got the right man for the job.
“We’re not hiring a coach to win games next season,” ETSU President Brian Noland said. “We hired a coach to build a foundation to make sure we win games for the next 30 years.”
Torbush, a former North Carolina and Louisiana Tech head coach, signed a five-year contract with a base salary of $160,000 plus other incentives.
The new coach is 61 years old, and Noland said age was never a factor in his hiring.
“If you look at the ages of men who have served as president of this country, if you look at the ages of individuals who are entrusted as CEO at Fortune 500 entities, Coach Torbush is a young man,” Noland said. “Coach Torbush’s best years are ahead of him. Folks say I have energy. It’s all I can do to keep up with him.”
As was expected, Fulmer, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, played a key role in Torbush’s hiring.
“I have a place in the mountains, and we sat on the porch and talked football and talked friends and a million other things, and a lot of the three hours was about East Tennessee State,” Fulmer said. “The pluses and minuses. There are a lot more pluses than minuses.”