Volunteers fans are already calling for head coach Jeremy Pruitt to be fired after Tennessee football’s 38-30 loss to the Georgia State Panthers.
It was already common knowledge that Tennessee football is the king of Twitter overreactions. Players go from being the next Peyton Manning to not deserving to see the field. Meanwhile, coaches go from being the next Robert Neyland to the next Bill Battle. And it happens overnight.
On Saturday, after losing to the Georgia State Panthers, Vol Twitter was at it again. Jeremy Pruitt turned from the legendary hire made by Phillip Fulmer who would save the program into a coach in over his head overnight.
Don’t believe me? Check out this article on Saturday Down South about how bad things are. Because of expectations for a major turnaround this year, Tennessee football losing to Georgia State has fans already wanting to fire Pruitt.
I’m here to say that’s ridiculous. There are plenty of coaches who suffer embarrassing losses early in their careers and then rebound to be very successful. It’s not the end of the world for his coaching tenure just yet.
Does anybody remember Nick Saban losing to the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks his first year with the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2007? That was a 6-6 Sun Belt team, and many of us believe Georgia State will have that record this year. Oh, and back in 2000, Saban’s LSU Tigers lost to the UAB Blazers, ironically a week before they played UT.
People like Clay Travis ripped that talking point, noting that the second year is when you judge coaches. However, what he fails to recognize is that there are many situations worse than what Saban walked into at LSU and Alabama. The Vols are one of those situations that were way worse.
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But let’s engage and move on from Saban. What about Mike Leach? All of Vol Nation now is back on the train that Tennessee football should have allowed Currie to hire Leach before letting Phillip Fulmer establish a coup and take over. I’ll be the first to admit that I still would have hired Leach. If Currie was smart enough to try that hire first, over Greg Schiano, he’d still have a job.
However, let’s look at Leach’s tenure with the Washington State Cougars. He was 3-9 two of this first three years and 6-7 the other year. It wasn’t until his fourth year that he hit nine wins. By the way, his team lost their opener that year to Portland State, an FCS school. That’s just something to think about when you bring up Pruitt’s struggles in this game.
Now, you may bring up that WSU is not the program the Vols are. I will bring up that Washington State in 2011, the year before Leach got there, was 4-8, the same record UT had the year before Pruitt got there.
Suddenly Leach isn’t that much more of a genius than Pruitt, is he? Now, let’s be clear. This is a bad loss. Tennessee football never should have let it happen. But there is no reason to quit on Pruitt just yet.
The Vols are not what the Georgia Bulldogs were when Kirby Smart took over, what the Florida Gators were when Dan Mullen took over or what Alabama or LSU were when Saban took over. They were in much worse shape, so things like Saturday could happen. Pruitt may not work out in the end. This game should not be the determining factor in that.