Paul Finebaum said the Crimson Tide would hire Tennessee football’s Jeremy Pruitt and not Dabo Swinney after Nick Saban. Volunteers fans shouldn’t worry.
Earlier in the week, SEC analyst Paul Finebaum made headlines by suggesting that when Nick Saban retires, the Alabama Crimson Tide would not hire UA graduate Dabo Swinney from the Clemson Tigers. Instead, he said he’d put his money on them turning to Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt.
Finebaum went on WJOX 94.5 in Birmingham to discuss it Monday. He noted that Pruitt has the ties as an Alabama graduate himself and a protege of Saban, and he said that Pruitt has an understanding of the program.
This all makes sense since that’s where Pruitt cut his teeth. Kirby Smart is a Georgia Bulldogs graduate, so he would stay there if he were successful, and Swinney’s style would be a total change from Saban. However, Tennessee football fans should never have to worry about Pruitt bailing them for the Tide, and there are quite a few reasons for that.
First off, we’ve seen no evidence that Saban will leave anytime soon. The guy is only 67 and is coaching like he has a solid decade left in Tuscaloosa. He basically has a lifetime contract anyway. Just that alone should put Vols fans at ease.
But it’s fair to assume that Pruitt, provided he succeeds, would be the ideal candidate to replace Saban. Here’s the thing, though. If by the time Saban leaves, Pruitt is a top candidate at Alabama, that means he would have succeeded with Tennessee football as much as anybody could have hoped him to.
Honestly, if 10 years later, the Vols don’t have a national championship under Pruitt, does anybody think that Alabama would hire him to replace Saban? Of course not. They would have an incredibly high standard, and anything short of winning a title with the Vols would not meet that standard.
Would Vol fans not be thrilled if in 10 years under Pruitt they had a level of success that included a national title and him being the top choice for the Alabama job? There is no way they could ask for a better situation.
So if we’re doing hypotheticals of Pruitt leaving for Alabama, two things have to have happened. A decade has to have passed at least, since it will be at a time Saban is thinking about retirement. And Pruitt would have had success reaching national title levels at Tennessee during that time.
If both of those things do happen, and Alabama comes calling, the Pruitt will also have established such a culture among the Tennessee football program that the Vols could easily find a replacement. Maybe he would be a younger guy on staff right now, such as Tee Martin climbing up the ranks and taking over his alma mater.
Or maybe the hire would be a guy we’ve never heard of yet. What’s clear, though, is that any scenario Pruitt leaving the Vols for Alabama would only come after massive success on Rocky Top. And Tennessee fans would do anything for such a level of success. So instead of worrying about this situation, they should be hoping for it.