Is It Time For Tennessee To Move Past Jeremy Pruitt?

Noah Dunlap
5 min readNov 26, 2020
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Tennessee’s football program won a national title in 1998.

Ever since then, it’s been a constant struggle for them to somehow regain some of the momentum from those glory days and try to make their way back to national prominence. Up to this point, everything they’ve tried has failed.

They tried numerous coaches (Derek Dooley, Butch Jones, etc.) and none of them worked. They tried bringing in longtime coach and Tennessee legend Phillip Fulmer (head coach of the ’98 title team) to be the athletic director in order to turn the ship around.

So far hiring Fulmer as AD has only worked for men’s basketball (hiring Rick Barnes), as the Vols are a borderline top-10 team heading into the 2020–2021 season, and baseball (hiring Tony Vitello) where the Vols baseball team finished the pandemic shortened 2020 season ranked in the top-25, and where they also bring in what many consider to be a top-5 recruiting class for the class of 2021.

So what’s gone wrong on the football side of things? They hired Nick Saban assistant coach Jeremy Pruitt in a move that made most fans sitting on Rocky Top extremely happy.

Three years later and those same fans are no longer singing his praises. Instead, they’re looking for ways to remove him from Knoxville altogether.

But the real question is whether this is rational thinking or not, and whether it’s conceivable that Pruitt may get fired.

Short answer is no. Long answer lies somewhere in between.

It’s undeniable that the talent level has dramatically improved in the three years under Pruitt. The Volunteers have had consistent top-15 recruiting classes, which is a great meter for where your program is headed, and even next year’s class is looking like a pretty solid haul may be headed to east Tennessee.

The defense has improved greatly, skill position players have more talent than they have in past years, and even the coaching staff as a whole has improved under Pruitt.

So where’s the problem? Why can’t they seem to win games?

Two words.

Starting. Quarterback.

Noah Dunlap

Avid Sports Fan. Host of the “Noah’s Ark of Sports” podcast. Ole Miss '20