Unless the Tennessee Vols just fail to show up the rest of the season, I expect Jeremy Pruitt to return as the program’s head coach in 2021.
Is that the right move?
Only time will tell (though I’ve made it clear how I feel about the situation).
If Pruitt returns in 2021, it’s because athletic director Phillip Fulmer truly believes he’s the guy who can get Tennessee over the hump. It will mean that Fulmer views the 2020 season as an aberration (which is possible, because of COVID-19, though I don’t think that should be used as an excuse for Pruitt).
Maybe Fulmer will be right. He’s won more football games as a coach than I’ve won (Fulmer leads me 152-0 in that category).
But even if Fulmer’s intuition turns out to be right (VolQuest reported this past week that Fulmer believes the football team is better than its record indicates), there’s still a major change in approach that Pruitt needs to make to be successful moving forward.
Pruitt is perceived as a micromanager. This shouldn’t be a surprise. Pruitt had plenty to say about how things were done under Mark Richt at Georgia. He wasn’t an assistant who just did his job and left the rest to everyone else — Pruitt made his opinions known…loudly.
As the head coach, Pruitt obviously has a say in how everything is done. It’s his program, after all.
But I’m not sure Pruitt is letting his assistants fully do their job. Pruitt wants a say in the offense. He’s coaching the defensive line after firing his just-hired defensive line coach. And he’s likely very involved in defensive game plans.
Pruitt has a lot of smart coaches on his staff. He needs to let them do their job or they can’t be effective coaches.
No college football coach has ever found success by micromanaging — just ask Ed Orgeron who failed miserably at Ole Miss because of that approach.
Pruitt needs to reevaluate his approach to coaching football. He’s as smart as anyone in the country when it comes to X’s and O’s. It’s not like Pruitt is clueless, he just needs to take more of a CEO type role with the program, instead of trying to be “in the trenches” with the rest of the staff (and making sure everything is done exactly how he’d do it).
Will this change guarunatee that Pruitt is successful in 2021 and beyond?
No, it doesn’t. There’s still a lot of other things that have to go right.
But if Pruitt doesn’t make the change, then you can be assured that things won’t get better on Rocky Top.
Featured image via Knoxville News-Sentinel-USA TODAY NETWORK