Reports: Tennessee Finalizing Deal with Alabama DC Jeremy Pruitt to be new Head Coach

After a coaching search that felt like it spanned generations, took years off lives, ended jobs, tarnished reputations, caused power struggles between a major university’s boosters and administrators — as well as power struggles between most orange-clad men and the wives angry that they’d become married to their F5 buttons — the Tennessee Volunteers finally maybe, probably, hopefully have their man.

We think.

Possibly.

According to multiple reports from ESPN’s Mark Schlabach, Chris Low and Brett McMurphy to GoVols247’s Patrick Brown to VolQuest’s Brent Hubbs to everyone else in the free world with a Twitter account and a source, the Vols will name Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt as head coach on Thursday.

Barring any snags.

Schlabach also reported this hiring likely means the end of any chances USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin returns home to Knoxville at this time.

It’s important to note the caveat that nothing is COMPLETELY finalized yet, considering the “snag” Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano encountered two Sundays ago, the “snag” that made Purdue coach Jeff Brohm’s name magically disappear and the “snag” that obliterated a verbal agreement for Mike Leach to come to UT.

If none of the snags occur that have basically turned this Tennessee search into a minefield over the course of three weeks, Pruitt will be the new head man in orange. He’s the culmination of a five-day search since Phillip Fulmer took over as athletic director following John Currie’s firing.

Fulmer dipped his toe in the water on Gary Patterson, Chris Petersen and Justin Fuente reportedly, but didn’t get much reception. Once that happened, his search mostly focused on three SEC defensive gurus and SMU offensive-minded head coach Chad Morris, the former Clemson offensive coordinator.

The Morris flirtation didn’t progress as far as the other three, and he took the Arkansas job on Wednesday. Fulmer, meanwhile, conducted multiple interviews with old friend, former Tennessee linebacker and Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker and Alabama DC Pruitt.

If the search ultimately yields Pruitt, it’s a win for the Vols when it looked like there was no way this search could finish with one. Without question, no matter how great it was that #VolTwitter, fans and students banded together to stop the Schiano hire, it helped perpetuate the idea of a difficult environment in Knoxville.

The toxicity continued as Currie went rogue following failed attempts to hire Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, perhaps Brohm and definitely N.C. State coach Dave Doeren. He reportedly took a former Kansas State booster’s plane to the West Coast to interview Leach, was ordered home by UT chancellor Beverly Davenport and fired on the spot last Friday morning.

Fulmer’s search began, and he took some big swings before settling on a trio of tough, defensive-minded coaches with SEC roots and strong recruiting resumes. Perhaps the strongest was Pruitt’s, who knocked his interviews out of the park and ended up the main focus.

Now, if his name actually somehow finds paper in the morning and this thing is official, the focus will be on the coaching staff and recruiting. Can Pruitt bring with him any of Alabama’s marquee commitments he was recruiting? Can he somehow convince Tosh Lupoi to join him in Knoxville rather than being the next in line to be ‘Bama’s defensive coordinator? If not, will the focus zero in on Georgia’s linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer?

Is there any truth to the rumors that Pruitt could bring with him old buddy Chip Lindsay to be Tennessee’s offensive coordinator after just one (successful) season as Gus Malzahn’s coordinator at Auburn? Will former Arkansas offensive coordinator Dan Enos get a look in Knoxville?

There is still a lot of intrigue remaining in all this, but it looks [at least right now] like Tennessee got its head man after a long, national embarrassment.

Finally.

Now, just don’t go screw it up, Vols.

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Evan
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Evan

Cautiously excited!

HT
Member
HT

You announce Pruitt the week Butch is fired and I think most Vol fans are pretty disappointed. But the way this search has gone, it feels like a home run. So… good job?

I think Pruitt can be extremely successful –
he’s been an up-and-coming “rock star” for years now – let’s hope he does it here. And let’s hope that Dabo wants the Bama job when Saban retires.

Go Vols.

daetilus
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daetilus

I think there would have been some letdown, but not a huge one. I think people would be able to build excitement over his record and potential.

But with the show that went on for the last couple of weeks, yea, he looks to be a great get for HC. Myself, and I’m sure many others, are simply relieved to have it finally ending. And with someone who has a good amount of potential for success.

HT
Member
HT

Most of the fans I saw – online and IRL – were excited that “THIS time it’s going to be different!!” With Hart gone, the roster in better shape, and what seemed like deep pockets, most fans were thinking that we could get an established name with HC experience. I think people would have been unhappy taking a flyer on a coordinator with no HC experience back then.

Will Shelton

Agreed, though I still think we would have talked ourselves into him faster than we did Butch Jones. Of everyone Tennessee reportedly talked to, I think only Gundy would have been unanimously celebrated had John Currie trotted him out two weeks ago instead of Schiano. Even Brohm and Leach would have been, “Can’t we do better?” hires if they were perceived to be our first choice back then. It’s an interesting what-if to think of who else might have been interested before this thing went nuclear had we not zeroed in on Schiano, one I hope we happily avoid with… Read more »