Tennessee Has Found Its New Coach In Jeremy Pruitt After The Greg Schiano Fiasco

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Our long national nightmare is finally over, as the Tennessee Volunteers’ coaching search has come to a merciful end. After the disaster that was the attempted hiring of Greg Schiano and the ensuing backlash that led the Vols to back out of a deal, the program took nearly two weeks to reset and reassess the situation.

Former coach Phillip Fulmer took over as the athletic director after essentially executing a coup on former AD John Currie, who was in hot water from the moment the Schiano backlash began. With Fulmer at the helm, the Vols’ search started over despite apparent inroads having been made with Washington State coach Mike Leach.

Instead of going with Leach, the Vols have decided to stay in the SEC and, as so many have prior to them, pull from the Nick Saban coaching tree in the constant effort to catch up to Alabama. After multiple reports that Tennessee has come to an agreement with Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt to be their new head coach on Wednesday night, the move became official on Thursday morning.

As we learned with Schiano, nothing in Knoxville is a done deal until the official announcement is made, but the Vols got it done and ended the long saga that was their disastrous coaching search.

The deal will reportedly be for six years, with the terms still unknown and considering the wide range we’ve heard out of Tennessee’s previous offers (from $3 million to $7 million) it’s hard to speculate on where Pruitt will fall.

This will be the third straight season Nick Saban’s staff has seen a coordinator take a head coaching job ahead of a College Football Playoff appearance. Pruitt follows in the footsteps of Kirby Smart (Georgia) and Lane Kiffin (FAU) as coordinators to depart Alabama in the last three years for head coaching vacancies.

Pruitt’s abilities as a recruiter and defensive coach have never been in question since he was plucked from Hoover High School by Alabama in 2007. Pruitt spent time as a DB coach under Saban before a year as defensive coordinator at Florida State, two years at Georgia, and then finally returning to Alabama after Smart took the Georgia job in 2016. How he will fare as a head coach remains to be seen, but at this point, Tennessee appeared to be stuck going with someone without much head coaching experience and they hope Pruitt was the best of their options.