Butch Jones made a lot of mistakes as the head coach of the Tennessee Vols.
Too many to count, really.
But the biggest mistake Jones made was that he wasn’t secure enough in his own skin to properly delegate responsibilities to his staff.
Jones wanted the last say in every aspect of the football program. He was the head coach, so I understand that everything in the program starts and stops with him. But college football teams don’t become great because of one person. They become great because a head coach surrounds himself with great people. And the head coach allows those great people to do a great job.
In early 2016, Jones made the decision to replace defensive coordinator John Jancek with Bob Shoop. On paper, it was a tremendous move by Jones. Shoop had a fantastic reputation at Penn State. But his success with the Nittany Lions didn’t translate to success with the Vols. Shoop’s two years in Knoxville were lackluster at best.
Since leaving Tennessee, Shoop has fared well as the defensive coordinator at Mississippi State.
Shoop obviously didn’t forget how to coach during his two years on Rocky Top. He was handcuffed by Jones, who couldn’t stop meddling in Shoop’s defense.
If Jones would’ve let Shoop have total control, perhaps the 2016 season doesn’t end with disastrous losses to South Carolina and Vanderbilt (and maybe the Vols beat Texas A&M).
With Pruitt, fans won’t have to worry about him letting coaches do their job. Pruitt is comfortable enough in his own skin to let go of the reigns.
.@AustinPriceless: “If you talk to his assistants, there is a better comfort level with the state of the program surrounding Jeremy Pruitt. Even though he still has his hand in every part of the team, Pruitt passing the reigns to Chaney or Ansley has shown his comfort.”
— The Midday 180 (@Midday180) August 2, 2019
This will allow Pruitt to be the CEO of the football program. It doesn’t mean he’ll be hands off (far from it), but he also won’t hinder his coaches’ abilities to do their job.
If Pruitt has the best staff in America (as he claims), doesn’t it make sense to let that staff do their thing without incessant interruption by the guy who hired them?
Pruitt’s confidence in himself and his staff is what will help take Tennessee football to the next level — a level that Butch Jones couldn’t reach.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports