Phillip Fulmer didn’t have this problem. To be fair, neither did Lane Kiffin when it came to areas he wasn’t familiar with. But Derek Dooley and Butch Jones had awful issues in this realm, and it was in totally different ways.
Coming from the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs where he served as athletic director, Dooley developed a bad habit of micromanaging. That habit turned into off-field issues when he took the Tennessee football job. Fair or not, Dooley clashed with some former players with his tightened rules as to when they could inside the program’s facilities.
Dooley’s abrasive tendencies with some people affiliated with the program did not go unnoticed. And it may have had a role in portraying the negative narrative that surrounded him. But to be fair, his issues could have been avoided.
Butch Jones, on the other hand, was a disaster in this field. He was stubborn beyond reason, and everything had to be his way. This was specifically true with the coaches he wanted and the schemes he wanted to run.
Jones didn’t replace two offensive coordinators and one defensive coordinator on Rocky Top in just five years for nothing. All three of those coordinators took lesser jobs when they left the program. And he replaced them with guys who would run specifically what he wanted.
The most notable example was promoting Larry Scott to offensive coordinator when Mark Helfrich, who developed Marcus Mariota, was a free agent. Jones wanted somebody who would run his specific version of the spread.
Then you go to defense. This wasn’t Jones area of expertise, but he still decided to replace Jon Jancek with Bob Shoop as defensive coordinator. Shoop clashed with the philosophy of the rest of the defensive staff in 2016, so he brought in two new guys in 2017.
Jeremy Pruitt is fine to want things to be done his way. He’s intense and probably abrasive as well. But if Tennessee football is to succeed, he needs to let his coaches coach and his players play. And that actually leads to another mistake by previous coaches he needs to avoid.