The Tennessee Vols are in a bad spot right now.
And it’s their own fault.
Head coach Jeremy Pruitt is squarely on the hot seat — thanks to the Vols’ current five-game losing streak — but Tennessee might not be able to make a change thanks to Pruitt’s extension earlier this year.
UT announced in late September that Pruitt received a two-year extension (through 2025).
The extension included a $400,000 raise (which Pruitt is foregoing this year due to COVID-19).
That’s not the bad part of the extension, though.
According to The Athletic’s Andy Staples, Pruitt’s buyout increased to around $12.6 million because of the extension. Before the extension, the buyout would’ve been about $6.8 million.
None of the buyout would be offset if Pruitt found another job, either.
If Tennessee is this reckless with extensions, then they can be this reckless with firing/hiring a new coach. I’m not sure money is an issue at all when you’re doing stuff like this. pic.twitter.com/6QZifzyEPM
— zach ragan (@zachTNT) November 25, 2020
This extension looks like one of the worst deals in sports this year in retrospect.
Admittedly, I said back in September that extending Pruitt was something Tennessee had to do (for reasons I explained here).
I was wrong.
Extending Pruitt just before the start of the season was dumb and I should’ve known at the time it was dumb.
First off, Pruitt had done nothing to actually earn a raise — he simply did what Tennessee was paying him to do. Pruitt didn’t wildly exceed expectations in 2019. In fact, Pruitt’s team massively underachieved by losing to Georgia State and BYU. And they were still blown out by Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.
The timing of the extension, however, is what was really baffling.
Extending coaches is a move that programs use to make sure they hold on to “their guy”.
But extending a coach just before the start of the season isn’t necessary. No one is stealing coaches right before the start of the season. That kind of extension should happen after the season during coaching search SZN.
Now, because of Tennessee’s ineptitude, they’ll possibly have to pay Pruitt double what they would’ve paid him if they end up firing him.
And look, if Pruitt goes 2-8 and loses to Vanderbilt, then a move has to be made. There is no “let’s see Pruitt with Harrison Bailey at quarterback”. That’s out the window if Tennessee can’t beat Vandy in year three. I don’t care who’s playing quarterback for the Vols, that would be unacceptable.
I don’t know what Tennessee plans to do. No one does. But I do know they’ve made a complete mess of their coaching situation.
Then again, should we have expected anything else? It’s kind of what the Vols do.
Featured image via Kim Klement/USA TODAY