One of the biggest reasons Butch Jones failed as the Tennessee Vols’ head football coach was his complete lack of self awareness.
Jones’ total lack of self awareness likely expedited his exit from Knoxville (Jones could’ve avoided a lot of embarrassing moments with the media, especially in his final season, had he been a percipient interpreter of the public mood).
By hiring Jeremy Pruitt to replace Jones, the Vols chose a head coach with a personality that’s better suited to lead a college football team.
Pruitt is incredibly self aware. He knows what he knows and he knows what he doesn’t know (it’s why he’s surrounded himself with a staff full of smart, well regarded coaches).
And that trait is trickling down to his team as well.
Tennessee has been on a roll lately. The Vols are 4-1 in their last five games after starting the season with a 1-4 record.
Pruitt, however, isn’t worried that his team is going to think they’re better than they actually are. That’s where the whole self awareness deal comes into play.
On Monday, during his weekly press conference, Pruitt told reporters that his team has yet to play a complete game. And because of improved self awareness, Pruitt thinks his team agrees.
#Vols coach Jeremy Pruitt: If these guys think they’ve played their best game or a complete game, they’re walking around with blinders on. But I think they know the truth. The self-awareness with this group has been a lot better than it was.
— Wes Rucker (@wesrucker247) November 18, 2019
This is more important than it might seem. Tennessee needs to play with confidence, but they also need to know what they do well and what they don’t do well. The Vols have a chance to finish the season on a high note. But if they waltz into their upcoming games against Missouri and Vanderbilt expecting easy wins, they might finish 5-7 for the second straight year.
Entering the season, it’s possible that UT lacked the necessary self awareness to be a good team (which is probably part of the reason for the loss against Georgia State).
But as the season has progressed, Pruitt’s influence on the program is being felt more and more. And the team’s self awareness has drastically improved.
Tennessee’s culture still isn’t exactly where it needs to be, but it’s clear that it’s moving in the right direction.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports