One of Tennessee Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt’s biggest coaching influences has undoubtedly been Alabama head coach Nick Saban.
Saban, after all, gave Pruitt his first shot as a college coach. He hired Pruitt in 2007 as his director of player personnel at Alabama. In 2010, Saban moved Pruitt to an on-the-field role as the Tide’s defensive backs coach. In 2016, Pruitt returned to Alabama to serve as Saban’s defensive coordinator for two seasons.
After two seasons as Alabama’s defensive coordinator, Pruitt was hired as Tennessee’s head coach, replacing Butch Jones.
And this is where the beef between Saban and Pruitt starts.
In a new documentary that features Saban and his longtime friend, and New England Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick, the Alabama coach alludes to being annoyed by his assistants landing head coaching gigs and then taking “his people” along for the ride.
Here’s an excerpt from an article from AL.com.
At one point, that yielded some commentary from Saban that hinted at some friction between him and former assistants, Georgia coach Kirby Smart and Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt.
“We’ve always had sort of a mutual respect for how we sort of take each other’s people,” Saban said to Belichick of their relationship. “It’s one thing that I always try to emphasize to the guys: what I have a tough time with, aight, is we’ve had however many guys who have worked here who are at Georgia, Tennessee — whoever, wherever — is when they get those jobs, and in most cases you’ve helped them, is they have a hard time understanding why they can’t take your people.
“I’m gonna help you get a job, [only] so that you can take what I’ve tried to build here and destroy the continuity of what I have? It’s amazing how some of the assistants don’t understand why that’s not a good thing.”
When Pruitt came to Tennessee, he brought former Alabama director of player development Kerry Stevenson with him. He also brought Chris Weinke with him, who was serving as an offensive analyst at the time for Alabama (he served as running backs coach for UT in 2018 and quarterbacks coach in 2019).
Honestly, this comes off as Saban whining. This is the nature of college football. Assistants and support staff leave for jobs all the time. Saban has left multiple jobs for better jobs — and he’s taken folks with him each time.
It sounds like Saban is growing frustrated with some of his assistants finding success on their own.
Featured image via Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports