The Tennessee Vols weren’t very good in Jeremy Pruitt’s first season as the program’s head coach.
Tennessee finished with a 5-7 record in 2018 — far below the traditional expectations at UT.
But the lackluster season, which came on the heels of the worst season in program history, wasn’t a surprise to athletic director Phillip Fulmer, who hired Pruitt in late 2017 just days after becoming the athletic director at Tennessee.
Fulmer completely understands why the Vols weren’t very good in 2018.
The legendary former UT head coach recently told WATE that spring practice in 2018 was a “blur”, noting that staff didn’t know each other very well and no one really knew how to go through drills.
Phillip Fulmer says UT is ready to build off its foundation that was set in Jeremy Pruitt’s first season. My one-on-one with the athletic director coming up in the Orange and White Nation 2019 Kickoff tonight at 7:30 p.m. on @6News!
— Marshall Hughes (@marshallhughes) August 29, 2019
That might sound like an excuse from Fulmer, but it’s not. He’s simply stating facts.
It’s hard to expect a first time head coach to thrive in year one. Even a well prepared coach like Pruitt, who has plenty of SEC coaching experience, had to go through a lot of trial and error in his first year. Pruitt essentially had to learn on the job how to be a head coach. That meant some mistakes had to be made.
Fulmer gets it. He was a first time head coach in the SEC in 1992. He understands the struggles Pruitt faced in year one.
But that doesn’t mean Fulmer is going to be patient, either. He fully expects to see significant progress in 2019.
And he should.
Pruitt’s had time to learn the ins and outs of being a head coach. He’s improved the roster and the coaching staff. UT is in a better spot than they were a year ago.
That doesn’t mean Fulmer is expecting the Vols to win ten games in 2019, but Tennessee better win at least six or seven games.
I have a feeling that won’t be an issue for Tennessee this season. Barring unforeseen circumstances, the Vols will be heading to a bowl game in 2019.
Featured image via Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports