It’s always interesting when you have a coaching change. Suddenly people are willing to step up and speak out, usually negatively, about the outgoing head coach. That’s seemingly what is happening with former Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt, who was fired in January following a recruiting investigation.
The former defensive coordinator was hired as a no-nonsense type of guy following the full-of-nonsense Butch Jones. However, his personality apparently rubbed plenty of people the wrong way. You’ve heard from Tennessee players talking about the culture change and how football is fun again, now, thanks to The Athletic, you’ve heard from a high school coach that Pruitt encountered on the recruiting trail.
Below are his comments, where the anonymous coach calls Pruitt a ‘low-class human being.’
“Pruitt, that guy, I had nothing to do with him. I saw him one time over here. I’ll leave it at that. He told one of our kids who played for him, who started a lot of games for him, that he couldn’t win with kids from our school and needed some dogs from Georgia. I was not a big fan at all. He didn’t think he could win with Tennessee kids, and it’s true that you can’t win with just Tennessee kids, but you better get the best from here, and there’s plenty you can get. He didn’t do that.
“And to be honest with you, I thought he was a low-class human being. We had kids on that team, we had managers, and just the stories about him, he didn’t sound like someone I’d really want to have anything to do with.” (Via The Athletic)
Pruitt finished his time at Tennessee with a 16-19 record. He failed to re-establish in-state recruiting, which was viewed as a must after Butch Jones failed to do the same. The comments above may shed some light on why that never happened. While Pruitt had plenty of SEC experience, it became clear in a few different ways that he wasn’t quite ready to be a head coach.
Pruitt has now landed in the NFL as a support staffer on the Giants as he waits out the NCAA investigation.
So much of coaching goes beyond the football field, especially at the college level. It’s about relationships and having the ability to sell your program, both of which have been emphasized several times by new head coach Josh Heupel. It’s now on Heupel to deliver on the field as he tries to pick up the pieces of the failed Pruitt era. So far, at least off the field, things are off to a positive start. Hopefully for Tennessee, it’s the start of some stability for the football program.