Dude, they sent Phil packing for one reason and one reason only. The fans, alumni and administration could no longer tolerate losing to the Florida Gators and Steve Orifice Spurrier aka Visor Boy
That's the irony of it all. Steve Spurrier set the UT program as far back as he brought Florida ahead.
They stupidly fired Fulmer, a coach who had brought a MNC to UT, the only other since 1951! Then they hired Lane Kiffin. You can't make this stuff up. Derek Dooley followed with a dull thud, which led to the imaginary championship world of Butch Jones
That same level of unreasonable expectation sent SOS to the NFL and eventually USCe, That would cost Florida for a number of seasons until Meyer resurrected the program.
The difference is today, Tennessee is still reeling from nearly two decades of poor AD leadership.