Jeremy Pruitt failed as the Tennessee Vols’ head coach for a litany of reasons.
The biggest reason Pruitt didn’t find success on Rocky Top was that he didn’t know how to be the CEO of a program. Pruitt knows his X’s and O’s, but he had no clue how to run a program like a business.
Another key reason Pruitt failed was the program’s lack of energy during his three years at the helm.
While Pruitt was the head coach, it felt like there was constantly a “solemn” feeling around the program. There was a severe lack of positive energy.
I fully believe that positive energy is a key component to a program’s success. Good vibes are contagious. And the vibe at Tennessee under Pruitt was more akin to a funeral than a successful football program.
That should be changing under new head coach Josh Heupel, who is already working hard to bring the team together via various team-building exercises. You can already tell a big difference in the vibe around the program.
But Heupel can’t do it alone. It’s going to take his whole staff to turn the culture around at UT.
That’s where new Vols assistant Mike Ekeler comes into play.
Ekeler is a veteran assistant who has spent time at various programs, including Oklahoma, LSU, Nebraska, Georgia, USC, and North Carolina. He has plenty of experience.
And most importantly, he has plenty of energy.
Ekeler has a reputation for being an energetic coach who is always pushing the limits of intensity. The guy has no off switch. He’s at 100 all the time.
That’s what the Vols need. They need a bolt of energy injected into the program. They need coaches who are going to keep the vibe positive, while also being intense. Ekeler is providing that on a daily basis.
— Mike Ekeler (@CoachEkelerUT) March 14, 2021
Ekeler is well aware of his reputation as an intense coach. It’s something he addressed during his first media availability at Tennessee earlier this month.
“I think it’s just how you’re wired as a person,” said Ekeler. “It’s no different than everybody’s got a different coaching style, right? Everybody’s got a different personality, and I just happen to enjoy Red Bull and that’s kind of how I coach.”
The Vols have a lot of things to fix in the coming months if the program is going to be successful. But the culture has to be the first thing that’s fixed.
Fortunately for Tennessee, it appears that Heupel has brought in the right coaches to make sure the program is on the right track.
Fans just need to remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. It could take some time before Tennessee starts finding the success it’s looking for on an annual basis.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports