When Butch Jones was the head coach of the Tennessee Vols, he was criticized for many of his coaching staff decisions.
Outside of his hire of Bob Shoop (which backfired for the Vols), Robert Gillespie and Charlton Warren, Jones mostly hired his buddies who weren’t SEC caliber coaches.
Mike DeBord (whose success was owed to Josh Dobbs), Mike Canales, Don Mahoney and Kevin Beard are just a few examples.
Jeremy Pruitt, on the other hand, also likes to hire his buddies, which might be concerning for some fans. But unlike Jones, Pruitt’s friends are SEC caliber coaches.
Pruitt has absolutely knocked it out of the park when it comes to coaching hires during his first year plus on the job. Landing guys like Jim Chaney, Derrick Ansley and Tee Martin is not something that happened during the Jones era. In fact, when Jones was at the helm, fans were hoping for hires like the ones Pruitt is making on Rocky Top. Pruitt is turning unlikely scenarios into a reality.
Dealing with the tough stuff
But what about when one of Pruitt’s hires doesn’t work out? What if one of his buddies can’t get the job done? What will Pruitt do then?
Well, thanks to some recent staff changes, I think we know the answer to that question.
Some #Tennesssee coaching moves: Chris Weinke moved to QB coach;
Tee Martin is WR coach/passing game coordinator/assistant head coach: David Johnson goes to RB coach; Derrick Ansley becomes the Vols new DC. Kevin Sherrer goes from DC to STC.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) February 15, 2019
Kevin Sherrer, who served as the Vols’ defensive coordinator in 2018, is one of Pruitt’s close friends. The duo played at Alabama together, they coached at Alabama and Georgia together and they each have history at Hoover High School. Suffice it to say, the two coaches know each other very well.
But Pruitt didn’t hesitate to move Sherrer out of the defensive coordinator position in favor of Ansley. Sherrer will coach special teams and inside linebackers in 2019. Obviously his salary will stay the same, but that’s still somewhat of a demotion for Sherrer.
Pruitt, however, didn’t let his close friendship with Sherrer stand in the way of making a tough coaching decision that benefited the University of Tennessee.
And I think that will continue to be the case during Pruitt’s tenure as UT’s head coach. If a coach isn’t getting the job done, Pruitt will make a change. Pruitt isn’t going to sacrifice success for a friendship. After all, this is a business. And Pruitt has to make the decisions that Tennessee pays him millions of dollars a year to make. He’s not running a frat house, he’s running a football program with one of the largest fan bases in the country.
I think Vol fans should have all the confidence in the world in Pruitt making the tough decisions after what he did with his coaching staff this off-season.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports