The Tennessee Vols are going through some necessary growing pains right now that should make the program better in the future.

Jeremy Pruitt is in his third season as the Vols’ head coach, but he’s still working to build a lasting culture on Rocky Top.

I’m sure there are plenty of folks who believe that culture should’ve been in place after Pruitt was on the job for a year. But I don’t think those folks realize just how bad the culture was under previous head coach Butch Jones.

Tennessee Vols

Pruitt made a comment on Monday, during a virtual media session with reporters, that indirectly illustrated how bad things were under Jones. The comment also showed fans how much work Pruitt had to do once he arrived at Tennessee.

“Everywhere I’ve coached, I’m used to players being in the office constantly,” said Pruitt on Monday. “The first year we had to drag them up here. Now we have kids up here all the time studying and trying to be the best player they can possibly be.”

When Pruitt got to Tennessee, players weren’t interested in becoming better players. They weren’t interested in putting in the time necessary to be successful in the SEC.

Look, things usually aren’t good when a coach gets fired. But I think it’s safe to say that things were exceptionally bad at Tennessee when Jones was fired. The Vols easily had the worst culture in the conference.

Moving forward, the players that are learning the proper habits now are the ones who will help create a lasting culture at UT. As new players that Pruitt has recruited arrive on campus, they’ll be greeted with certain expectations from upperclassmen from day one.

Sometimes I think fans forget how many hurdles Pruitt had in front of him when he took the job at Tennessee. Not only was he a first-time head coach, but he inherited a complete disaster.

That doesn’t mean that I think Pruitt is a lock to be a future coach of the year candidate, but I certainly think he’s deserving of more time to prove himself as a competent head coach at Tennessee.

Featured image via Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
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