I don’t believe Tennessee Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt deserves an extension after 2019.
But because of the current landscape of college football, Tennessee doesn’t have a choice but to extend Pruitt and give him a raise.
(An extension for Pruitt is most likely happening within the next few weeks.)
Pruitt doesn’t deserve an extension because so far he’s done exactly what he was expected to do. The program took a small step forward in 2018, and then another step forward in 2019. It’s not like Tennessee has wildly exceeded expectations.
After two years, Pruitt’s record at UT is 13-12. That’s a respectable record considering the mess the Vols were in when Pruitt took over.
(And it was a big mess, according to recent comments from Phillip Fulmer.)
But I think that’s pretty much where everyone expected the Vols to be right now under Pruitt.
If someone was doing an employee evaluation for Pruitt, they’d check the “meets expectations” box, not the “exceed expectations” box.
And “meets expectations” doesn’t usually get a raise (at least not a contract employee).
But Pruitt is still going to get one. Tennessee can thank Michigan State and Missouri, among other schools, for that.
Mel Tucker has one year of collegiate head coaching experience (5-7 at Colorado in 2019) and is making over $5 million to be the head coach at Michigan State.
Eliah Drinkwitz was the head coach for one season at Appalachian State and he’s making $4 million a year to be the head coach at Missouri.
Pruitt, meanwhile, is making just south of $4 million.
There’s no way Tucker and Drinkwitz should be making more than Pruitt. But when schools feel pressure to hire a head coach, they’ll dish out a ridiculous amount of money to land “their guy”.
As a result of other programs paying exorbitant amounts for coaches, the Vols have to make sure Pruitt’s salary is adjusted.
This mainly protects Tennessee from another program stealing Pruitt (though Alabama, down the road, will be the main threat if the Vols continue to progress).
While I think Pruitt is locked in at Tennessee for now, he probably wouldn’t turn down an $8 million offer to leave Knoxville (that might sound crazy, but Tucker got over $5 million, we aren’t far from coaches getting $7-8 million for mediocre resumés).
The rest of college football is determining when coaches get extensions now. We’ve reached a point where coaches are either fired or they’re given raises. There is no in between. There is no “work out your contract and then we’ll reward you with a more lucrative contract”.
As a result, the Vols have to make Pruitt a little bit richer.
Welcome to college football in 2020.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports/Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports