Jeremy Pruitt failed as the Tennessee Vols’ head coach mostly because he wasn’t equipped to be the “CEO” of a football program.
Pruitt is an excellent football coach who knows the X’s and O’s of defense as well as anyone. He’s just not the guy that should be overlooking an entire program. He’s much better suited to serve in a coordinator role or as a position coach.
There was a lot that went wrong for Pruitt at Tennessee, but there was plenty that went right, too.
Pruitt knows how to evaluate talent. And he knows that programs aren’t always going to land their top recruiting targets (unless that program is Alabama or Clemson).
“One thing that I’ve figured out in recruiting is you worry about the ones that you get, you don’t worry about the ones you don’t,” said Pruitt during his introductory press conference at UT in late 2017.
On Tuesday, during an interview on 3HL on 104.5 The Zone in Nashville, new Vols head coach Josh Heupel said essentially the exact same thing.
“Ultimately our success will be determined by the guys that are here,” said Heupel on Tuesday. “I feel the same thing about recruiting, right? It’s never about the guys you don’t get, it’s always about the guys that you do get.”
It’s usually not a positive to hear a head coach sounding like the guy who just got fired (especially Pruitt, who wasn’t a gifted public speaker).
But in this instance, I think Pruitt and Heupel are both spot on with their comments.
I know for some fans, these comments sound like a built-in excuse for when a coach misses on a top recruit.
“Hey, don’t worry about that stud who didn’t commit, just worry about these guys who did commit.”
That’s not necessarily what Heupel is trying to say.
He’s basically saying that you can either worry bout the guys that Tennessee didn’t get, or you can focus on the guys who are Vols. The guys who didn’t sign at UT aren’t going to make the program better. That ship sailed. So focus on the talent in place. If you get hung up on the guys who signed with Alabama or Georgia, you’ll lose sight of the talent in front of you.
It’s a tough approach to take — especially for fans — because losing a key recruit to a rival is never easy. But it happens. And there’s nothing you can do about it once it happens.
Pruitt may have failed at Tennessee, but he had some good ideas/thoughts. This is one of those.
Vol fans, however, are probably hoping they don’t hear many more similarities between Pruitt and Heupel.
Featured image via UTAD