LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Johnny Majors has made it clear in the past he was not happy with the way he left Tennessee. Majors was fired in 1992, and his assistant, Phillip Fulmer, succeeded him.
On Monday at the Little Rock Touchdown Club, Majors said he still has fond memories of Tennessee, but he drew a laugh from the crowd full of Arkansas fans when a took a small dig at Fulmer.
"I don't pull against those players up there," Majors said.
"But I don't have any regard for Judas Brutus, who's coaching up
Fulmer, the current coach of the Volunteers, was a top assistant
to Majors when Majors underwent heart surgery in 1992, and took
over the team for three victories while Majors was recovering. He
was named head coach following Majors' dismissal.
A call to the Tennessee sports information office seeking
comment from Fulmer was not returned.
Majors spoke for about 45 minutes, entertaining the crowd with
stories about his playing days at Tennessee, his years as an
assistant to Arkansas coach Frank Broyles, and a head coaching
career that spanned almost three decades.
Majors was a star running back at Tennessee during the 1950s, finishing second to Notre Dame's Paul Hornung in the '56 Heisman
Trophy race. He went 184-137-10 as a head coach at Iowa State,
Tennessee and Pittsburgh.
He led Pitt to the 1976 national title, then left a few days
later to coach Tennessee. He spent 16 seasons there, but missed the
first three games in 1992 while he recovered from heart bypass
surgery. The Volunteers, coached by Fulmer, got off to a 3-0 start.
Majors unexpectedly returned and Tennessee lost three of its
next five games. With three games left, the university said Majors
would not return for another season. He later went back to Pitt.
Majors has returned to Tennessee's campus only a few times since
stepping down as coach, but he was there last month for a tribute
to his 1985 team that won the Sugar Bowl.
"They've been great to me and my family for a long, long time
since I went there as a freshman in 1953." Majors said Monday. "I
am not a bitter man, I am not an angry man. I am having too much of
a good time living."
Majors amused the Razorback partisans with his comments about Tennessee, but they appeared just as interested when he talked about his experiences at Arkansas. Majors became an assistant on
the Razorbacks' staff in 1964, the year Arkansas went 11-0 and
finished ranked No. 1 by the Football Writers Association of
Arkansas shut out its last five regular-season opponents that
year before beating Nebraska 10-7 in the Cotton Bowl.
"When they don't score, it's pretty hard to lose," Majors
Majors became the coach at Iowa State in 1968, where his
assistants included Jimmy Johnson, Jackie Sherrill and Larry
Lacewell, who went on to coach at Arkansas State, was in the
audience Monday. Majors took the opportunity to needle him a bit.
"Larry Lacewell, Jimmy Johnson and Jackie Sherrill were on my
first staff up there. Man, they had all the answers," he said with
a touch of sarcasm.
Majors went to Pitt in 1973, taking over a team that had won one
game the previous season and eventually winning a national title.
After a 16-year stay at Tennessee, he went back to coach the
Panthers, trying to resurrect the program for a second time. But he
went 11-32 in his second stint and retired at the end of the 1996
Majors said he never forgot the lessons he learned from Broyles
and the rest of the Arkansas staff, and he still has an obvious
soft spot for the school and its supporters.
"There's none better anywhere in the country than the Arkansas
Razorback fans," he said. "You have a stellar group here."