Tennessee Vols athletic director Phillip Fulmer publicly backed UT head coach Jeremy Pruitt on Wednesday night during Vol calls.
Fulmer said he believes the Volunteers are better than their record indicates. He also pointed to Johnny Majors’ record over his first 30 games at Tennessee (which is similar to Pruitt’s) as a reason to not lose faith in Pruitt.
#Vols AD Phillip Fulmer just backed Jeremy Pruitt on Vol Calls.
Mentioned how young Tennessee is, Jeremy Pruitt is more impatient than anyone, talent has been upgraded, working hard, team is young and not being able to practice at times has hurt development, etc.
— Ben McKee (@benmckee14) December 3, 2020
Phillip Fulmer: “An interesting statistic that i found, Coach Majors was 14-15-1 in his first 30 games and Coach Pruitt is 15-15 in his first 30 games”
“I really think we’re a better football team than our record has shown”
— Trey Wallace (@TreyWallace_) December 3, 2020
Fulmer is probably right to feel this way. This is a man that knows football much better than I do (probably better than anyone reading this).
Here’s the thing — 25-30 years ago, Fulmer’s approach (giving Pruitt plenty of time) would be the right one to take.
Pruitt is a smart football guy. He’s a brilliant defensive coordinator. But he’s still learning how to be a head coach. It’s the same thing that a lot of head coaches have gone through over the years (Ed Orgeron for example).
But how long will it take Pruitt to get there?
College football in 2020 is a lot different than it was in 1990. It’s even a lot different than it was 15 years ago. Coaches don’t get the opportunity to learn on the job. Either figure it out quick, or it’s on to the next. coach. Right or wrong, that’s how it goes.
And the problem for Pruitt is that if he doesn’t figure it out quickly (like in the next few months quickly), the Vols are going to take a major hit in recruiting. When recruiting goes downhill, it’s over. Programs can’t compete in the SEC East without top recruiting classes.
We’ve already seen Tennessee lose a couple of high profile commits over the last couple of weeks. Will more be on the way?
It’s certainly possible because it’s unlikely the Vols have a strong finish to the season with Florida and Texas A&M looming.
I know Fulmer wants Pruitt to succeed. I think anyone who genuinely enjoys football wants to see Pruitt succeed. But in this current climate, I’m not sure he’s going to be able to succeed at Tennessee. There are just too many moving parts to being a successful head coach these days.
Pruitt appears to be several years away still. And the Vols don’t have time to wait.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports