It’s no secret that things aren’t going well for the Tennessee Vols this season.
The Vols are 2-4 midway through the 2020 season with inexplicable losses to Kentucky and Arkansas.
This isn’t where folks expected Tennessee to be after finishing the 2019 season on a six-game winning streak.
Instead of taking a step forward, the Vols have regressed under third-year head coach Jeremy Pruitt.
Unsurprisingly, Pruitt’s seat has started getting a bit warm. SEC fans aren’t known for being patient. And year three — even in the midst of a pandemic — is typically the year when the jury is out on a coach. If we were forced to reach a verdict on Pruitt after his first 31 games at Tennessee, I’d expect most responses to be firmly in the “he’s not the guy” camp.
All of that is to be expected. We’ve seen this plenty of times before on Rocky Top.
What surprises me, though, is the anger I’ve seen directed toward athletic director Phillip Fulmer (mainly from fans on various social media apps).
One of the recurring comments I’ve seen is “well it’s Fulmer’s fault for hiring this guy”.
Have folks already forgot about the disastrous 2017 coaching search?
After the way things played out in 2017, hiring Pruitt felt like a steal for the Vols.
When Fulmer took over for ousted athletic director John Currie, the UT coaching search had become a punchline for national college football writers.
Tennessee was the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons.
The Vols’ situation had become so toxic that no one wanted any part of the job. The top three candidates were Pruitt, Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, and Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.
Pruitt was the clear choice among fans.
I’m not sure what Fulmer was supposed to do differently. Hiring Pruitt was the only choice he had in 2017. It’s not Fulmer’s fault that it’s not exactly working out right now.
It’s unclear where Fulmer and Tennessee will go from here, too.
Because of the pandemic, I’m not sure the Vols can fire Pruitt. Fulmer’s hands are probably going to be tied.
Fulmer, however, is going to do whatever it takes to get Tennessee football back to respectability. There’s no one that hurts more watching the Vols lose than Fulmer. Why wouldn’t he do everything in his power to fix it?
Remember, there’s only so much an athletic director can do. Fulmer is going to continue using the resources he has available to turn the Vols into a contender.
Featured image via Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports