When Jeremy Pruitt was hired in late 2017 to be the Tennessee Vols’ head coach, there were a lot of questions about whether or not the Alabama native was ready for such a big job.
Former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray publicly questioned Pruitt’s ability to be the “CEO” of a program in the summer of 2018, saying “He needs to prove to me that he can handle the whole ship. For right now, I don’t think he can.”
On Saturday night, after a brutal loss to Alabama, Pruitt got a chance to prove to Murray, and everyone else, that he’s more than capable of being a head coach in the SEC.
Tennessee’s 35-13 loss to the Crimson Tide wasn’t the average UT loss to Bama. The Vols were able to hang tough with Alabama for the majority of the evening. But some inexplicably bad calls, combined with a boneheaded decision by Jarrett Guarantano to run a QB sneak on the goal line, prevented Tennessee from having a chance to win the game.
Pruitt was obviously upset and annoyed after the game. But he walked into the post game press conference with a composed demeanor and he didn’t let his emotions get the best of him. He was asked multiple times by reporters about the officiating and Guarantano’s goal line decision. While he was visibly perturbed by it all, he didn’t foolishly unload on anyone. Pruitt even acknowledged that he needed to see the tape first before deciding on the his opinion of the officiating.
The officiating crew kept Jeremy Pruitt busy on Saturday in Tuscaloosa. pic.twitter.com/vIm8PQRiWl
— Marshall Hughes (@marshallhughes) October 20, 2019
I don’t think there’s any better response Pruitt could’ve had in that moment. He wasn’t overly critical of the officials without knowing for sure what did or didn’t happen, but he also stuck up for his team, noting their lack of penalties so far this season.
Another instance of Pruitt proving he’s not in over his head came when discussing Guarantano’s decision to attempt a quarterback sneak instead of running the play that was called. Pruitt could’ve easily told reporters Guarantano went rogue and did his own thing. Instead, Tennessee’s second year head coach chalked the incident up to a “miscommunication”.
Jeremy Pruitt on the Guarantano fumble: “There was some miscommunication out there.”
“We elected to run a sneak and we shouldn’t have jumped over the top.”
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) October 20, 2019
Pruitt had plenty to be angry about on Saturday night. And I think folks would’ve understood if he let the anger flow in the post game presser.
But Pruitt answered questions in a measured tone and didn’t let his emotions take over. That’s the sign of a coach who isn’t in over his head.
After the loss to Alabama, I don’t think there’s any doubt that Pruitt is right where he needs to be.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports