Brumbaugh was hired during the offseason to replace Tracy Rocker, who left Rocky Top after the 2019 season to take a job as the defensive line coach at South Carolina.
The move was surprising for several reasons. The defensive line hasn’t been playing well this season, but neither has the offensive line. In fact, I think the offensive line — which is loaded with five-star talent — has been the bigger disappointment. If a change was going to be made, most folks probably would’ve bet on offensive line coach Will Friend getting a pink slip, or quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke (which I wrote about extensively here).
We don’t typically see a lot of position coaches fired midseason in college football. So it’s clear that Pruitt wasn’t happy. VolQuest reported that Brumbaugh hadn’t “lived up to Pruitt’s expecations” during the first few games of the season.
I wouldn’t be surprised if there are other reasons for Brumbaugh’s dismissal too, but that’s just speculation for now.
Either way, I think Pruitt’s firing of Brumbaugh tells us something extremely important about the state of the football program.
Pruitt still has Phillip Fulmer’s full trust.
Tennessee has to buy out Brumbaugh’s contract, which is worth whatever is remaining of the $650,000 two-year deal he signed with the Vols.
Essentially, Tennessee is throwing away over a half a million dollars by allowing Pruitt to make this move. That doesn’t happen unless an athletic director has full trust in a coach.
I think this shows that Pruitt isn’t on shaky ground with Fulmer, despite the loss to Kentucky. Fulmer is allowing Pruitt to run the program the way Pruitt wants to run it.
And that’s a good sign. The loss to Kentucky was bad, but Tennessee becoming a toxic enviroment again would be even worse.
For now, it appears that the culture at UT is still good. And Fulmer is going to continue to trudge forward with confidence in Pruitt, despite the setback on Saturday against Kentucky.
Featured image via Tennessee Athletic Communications