Are You Being Served?

UPDATE, 7/25/08: Fulmer acknowledged the subpoena last night.

I was getting out of the car and was tossed a piece of paper that I picked up, stuck it in with a whole bunch of things that I had been reading on my way in from the airport and handed it to Bud Ford to put in his briefcase and forgot about it. I got a bunch of questions (from the media) about a subpoena that I hadn’t seen.

I wasn’t expecting a subpoena but maybe every time I go to Birmingham I probably will be expecting a subpoena. As it turns out its some sort of subpoena to do something, and I will let the attorneys all handle that. The issue is its all crap and they are trying to use the press trying to use a day that’s very special to the Southeastern conference for players and the coaches. ...

About being in Birmingham, I wasn’t trying to mislead anybody. I hadn’t looked at anything.

(HT: Bleacher Report)

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C&F anticipated many possibilities when he decided to cover SEC Media Days: Incendiary quotes. A riot when fans crowding the lobby heard blasphemy spoken against St. Nick. The possibility that Les Miles would leap from the podium and begin beating a reporter senseless.

A subpoena was not on the list.

Nevertheless, that's what we have today: Credible reports that Phil Fulmer has been served with a subpoena, which upended what was supposed to be another great day for the bestest conference everer.

Tales of subterfuge and espionage follow.

Fulmer was ordered to appear Sept. 25 at the law firm of Blankenship, Harrelson & Wollitz, LLC, in Birmingham.

Tennessee is scheduled to play at Auburn two days later.

Fulmer was handed the subpoena, which was made official Wednesday by the circuit court of Jackson County, by a person representing the firm and accompanied by attorney Christopher Linton. He and Meredith Phillips, who was wearing Tennessee colors, were standing just outside of radio row at SEC Media Days at the Wynfrey Hotel. ...

Linton told The Tuscaloosa News that Fulmer had the subpoena in his possession, and then put it into a stack of papers. The exchange was also videotaped.

Fulmer denied that he had seen any such paper.

"I have not seen that," he said. "I have not seen a subpoena. As I said to all the other groups, this is not the place for that kind of thing. There are great fans that have great passion around the Southeastern Conference that are not interested in that kind of BS. And I would have some other choice words if there weren't so many cameras in here."

Au contraire, Messr. Fulmer. Every fan in the SEC not rooting for the Vols is interested in this.

A reporter gave Fulmer the opportunity to revise or extend his remarks, and the pudgy one declined.

"I've talked all about that I'm going to talk about that," he said. "If you have a question about a schedule or a team or anything, I'd be glad to talk to you. Otherwise, I'm not talking about it any further."

Despite Fulmer's denial, television station WATE has a copy of the subpoena on its Web site.

This, of course, came at the same time Fulmer was proudly declaring that his team had been free of off-the-field issues since February.

Commissioner Mike Slive, who looked like he would rather talk about his own funeral arrangements, reluctantly spoke to a few reporters outside the print media room. He declined to confirm whether Fulmer actually received a subpoena.

"Something like that is an unnecessary distraction," Slive said, vowing not to let media days be "derailed" by the legal proceedings.

By that point, it was too late. Fulmer might not want to talk about his alleged legal troubles. But everyone else does.

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NOTE: I have some business to attend to in Birmingham, but posting will resume this evening.

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