Nearly every negative “hot take” during the Tennessee Vols’ slow start to the season has proved to be bad after UT has managed to right the ship under second year head coach Jeremy Pruitt.
But there’s one hot take that managed to rise above the rest and claim the crown as the worst.
Congrats, Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports.
After Tennessee started the season 1-3, Thamel wrote a scathing column about the Vols that suggested, among other things, that UT was a program with “no oxygen”. Thamel also said the Vols were “relevant only by its weekly self-created disasters”.
Here’s a particularly rough excerpt from Thamel’s column.
This current overmatched Tennessee staff is a curdling cesspool of Fulmer’s own creation. The final salvo of administrative malfeasance was letting Pruitt hire Jim Chaney from Georgia as offensive coordinator. Tennessee is years behind catching up to rivals like Georgia and Alabama, and attempting to play the same style on offense and eventually surpassing them is about as savvy a strategy as hiring Antonio Brown’s life coach. Pruitt made the classic mistake of so many Saban disciples, attempting to copy and paste The Process and expecting similar results.
That take was bad when the Vols were 1-3. It’s even worse now.
Pruitt certainly made some mistakes to start the season. And he’s going to continue to make some mistakes as he evolves as a head coach. But calling an all-star staff “overmatched” is just irresponsible.
Unlike his predecessor, Pruitt put together a staff full of coaches with tremendous reputations. Thamel’s suggestion that Pruitt being able to hire offensive coordinator Jim Chaney away from Georgia was “administrative malfeasance” by athletic director Phillip Fulmer is laughable.
Hiring Chaney was a home run for the Vols last winter. And it’s still a home run now.
I have no problem with the way folks questioned Pruitt in September. I questioned him as well. It was warranted. But there was also a need to let things play out before labeling Pruitt as “in over his head”.
Thamel’s bizzarre assertion that fans were rooting for Pruitt to fail (a statement he offered with no evidence) was also irresponsible.
Ultimately, no one knows how Pruitt’s tenure at Tennessee will play out. It’s still very possible that he will fail. But I think a lot of folks learned that passing judgement too early is never wise.
Maybe Pete Thamel was one of those folks who learned that lesson. Or maybe he’ll wait for Pruitt’s next misstep to double down on his careless take.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports