Tennessee Volunteers: Grading the Jeremy Pruitt Hire

Late Wednesday night, the Tennessee Volunteers finally found their new head guy. ESPN’s Chris Low reported that the Volunteers had hired Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt to be their new head coach.

Now, before fans start jumping up and down screaming “We’re saved! We’re saved!” everyone should think about the hire first. Yes, Jeremy Pruitt is a product of Alabama and Nick Saban, but he still has zero head coaching experience, which is exactly what most fans in Knoxville were clamoring for. Let’s take a look at both the good and bad about the Pruitt hire for Tennessee.

The bad:

Let’s point out the obvious like previously stated: Pruitt has no head coaching experience. That is what a lot of the higher-ups and fans at Tennessee wanted for their next guy. Former athletic director John Currie had hired Greg Schiano at one point and he has 13 total years of head coaching experienced.

Now, fans were more upset at the fact that Schiano was involved in the Penn State scandal, which led to the team backing out, but let’s not ignore the fact that fans weren’t happy with rumors of NC State head coach Dave Doeren being in the mix. Doeren has had consistency with the Wolf Pack the last four years, but apparently that was not enough for the orange and white faithful.

So, back to Pruitt. What is the appeal for him? Yes, he is a good defensive coordinator, but will he be able to lead a team on his own? And will he meet the expectations, which for Tennessee fans are likely an SEC championship in 2018?

The 2018 schedule is pretty tough for the Vols as they open the season against West Virginia and the always dangerous Will Grier in Charlotte, North Carolina. It doesn’t get any easier for them as they draw both defending SEC division champions on the road in back-to-back weeks as well as South Carolina in Columbia to close out a tough October schedule.

The good:

For all that could be bad about the Jeremy Pruitt hire, there is just as much if not more to say that is very good about this hire. Pruitt is a product of the state of Alabama, a powerhouse in college football. He played for the Crimson Tide in the ’90s and then spent time in the high school game all over the state, including a three-year stint at perennial power Hoover High School under coach Rush Propst.

He finally made his way back to Alabama in 2007 and spent six years there as a defensive backs coach. In the middle of his 10-year run in the SEC, Pruitt was the defensive coordinator at Florida State in 2013, where he won a national championship and the Broyles Award, given to the best coordinator in college football. This award basically guarantees that you will be a head coach some day and four years later, we are here.

Pruitt has led some of the best defenses in the country over the last half-decade or so and that is exactly what Tennessee has predicated all of its past successes on. Pruitt is certainly a Phillip Fulmer hire and there is no reason why he shouldn’t be successful.

And if you need any more reason why Pruitt will be a success in Tennessee, just look at what the last coordinators to leave Alabama (Lane Kiffin and Kirby Smart) have done for their teams.

To grade Tennessee’s hire of Pruitt is simple. The Volunteers needed a defensive mind, but would have liked him to have some kind of head coaching experience. However, working under Jimbo Fisher, Mark Richt and Nick Saban kind of make up for that.

Grade: B+