Each year CBS Sports takes on the daunting task of ranking every college football coach in the FBS. Their panel of analysts vote on each and every coach, which spits out a ranking for us to all argue about.
This year, following an 8-5 season and a bowl win, Jeremy Pruitt is on the move. Tennessee’s head coach jumped 14 spots to No. 38 overall, one of the biggest movers on the list. Ironically, Pruitt checked in right ahead of new (and old) Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, who was set to become the head coach at Tennessee in 2017 before a fan and booster revolt shut things down.
Here’s what CBS had to say on Pruitt.
Jeremy Pruitt: Well, this should help fill radio air time for a few weeks. Pruitt finishes a spot higher than Schiano. If not for a Tennessee fan revolt in Knoxville after word leaked they were hiring Schiano, Pruitt wouldn’t be there. I’m sure I won’t hear about this ranking in my mentions for the next decade. I had Pruitt at No. 27 myself, and he made a nice climb after ending the season with six straight wins, including in the Gator Bowl over Indiana. 2019 rank: 52 (+14)
We’ve only got rankings through 26th so far, but some notables are David Cutcliffe in 26th, Dave Clawson in 32nd, Lane Kiffin in 35th, Les Miles in 43rd and Will Muschamp in 45th.
Several connected to the 2017 coaching search at Tennessee made appearances in this range. Mike Leach checked in at 27th, Mike Norvell at 29th, Greg Schiano at 39th, Jeff Brohm at 44th, Dave Doeren at 49th and Mel Tucker at 55th.
Is this a fair landing spot for Pruitt? It certainly feels like it is for now. We started to see some dividends at the end of last season and he’s turned that on-field success into more recruiting success. The next step is hanging with — and starting to beat — some of the SEC’s elite. That step will prove to be the most difficult one, but the talent level in the program is beginning to rise.
Because of that fact, Pruitt seems like a safe bet to rise in rankings like these over the next few seasons.