Take Two: Is Jeremy Pruitt's personality a fit for Tennessee?
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Take Two returns with a daily offering tackling a handful of issues in the college football landscape. Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Adam Gorney lays out the situation and then receives takes from Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell and a local expert from the Rivals.com network of team sites.
Since 2013, Jeremy Pruitt has been the defensive coordinator at Florida State, Georgia and Alabama. The new Tennessee coach worked his way up to the highest echelons in college football from the high school ranks and he’s done it in a relatively quick period of time.
But Pruitt has also drawn criticism, especially in the last couple weeks from former Georgia players Aaron Murray and David Pollack, who both basically said Pruitt does not have the personality to be a successful head coach. Both said he was not only disrespectful to then-Georgia coach Mark Richt but that some stories his sources relayed were, according to Pollack, the “most crazy things they heard.”
Neither Murray nor Pollack elaborated with specifics.
Pruitt might have a brash, blatantly honest personality. It might not always come off as completely welcoming. But isn’t that exactly what Tennessee might need to turn around a moribund program that has been losing significant traction in the SEC East to Georgia, Florida and maybe even South Carolina in recent years? Forget competing against Alabama for SEC titles -- the Volunteers are nowhere close.
Former coach Butch Jones talked about “five-star hearts” and “champions of life” and it drove the Tennessee fan base insane as the Vols stayed just an average team. Pruitt is much more straightforward and brutally honest.
Is that just the medicine the doctor ordered?
FIRST TAKE: JESSE SIMONTON, VOLQUEST.COM
“The Jeremy Pruitt-Aaron Murray kerfuffle gave Tennessee’s first-year head coach an early opportunity to galvanize a rabid fan base against one of its rivals. The whispers about Pruitt’s tenure at Georgia have been out there for the last two years, but even if what Murray said ultimately proves to be true in time, his quotes were a layup opportunity for Pruitt to score points with Big Orange Nation.
“Pruitt has an alpha personality. That’s part of the reason why he was hired by Phillip Fulmer. He’s not Derek Dooley or Butch Jones. We don’t know if he’s truly CEO material, but it’s clear thus far that Tennessee has rallied around his blunt style. Only two players have left the program since he was hired — and none since he publicly challenged both his team and the fans for a lackluster showing in the spring. The Vols brought in Pruitt to change the narrative around the program, and whether he’s a bit rougher around the edges than some prefer won’t matter if the win-loss ledger changes quickly.”
SECOND TAKE: MIKE FARRELL, RIVALS.COM
“Pruitt has a reputation for being sort of a difficult guy to deal with when it comes to his stints as a defensive coordinator, but sometimes that’s what you need.
“Butch Jones was a players’ coach. That didn’t work out. You need a guy in the Tennessee system right now that is no-nonsense and who’s going to be a leader and who doesn’t really care what people think. Whether he’s successful or not, I don’t know, but he does have that reputation. I don’t think it’s a horrible thing after what they went through with Butch Jones.”