Tennessee football presser: Shawn Shamburger to miss rest of season

Nov 30, 2019; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers head coach Jeremy Pruitt during the first half against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 30, 2019; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers head coach Jeremy Pruitt during the first half against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports /

Jeremy Pruitt addressed Tennessee football Volunteers personnel and contracts.

Coming off an unscheduled bye week, Tennessee football was back getting prepared for the Auburn Tigers on Monday. Jeremy Pruitt took the podium for his weekly press conference and had a lot of things to address.

From personnel news to discussing a bit of controversy that surrounded the program heading into the weekend, Pruitt deserves some credit for not dodging a couple of issues. Whatever else you want to say about his coaching job, he handled these situations somewhat reasonably.

However, at 2-4, he is still feeling the pressure, and he’s got to deliver for Tennessee football soon. Ahead of the preparations for the Auburn game this week, here are our main takeaways from his Monday media session. You can see the full press conference by clicking on the video above.

‘Final chapter’ not written on coaches rejecting pay cuts

On Friday, Blake Toppmeyer of the Knoxville News Sentinel broke the story that eight Tennessee football assistants rejected pay cuts to deal with the financial setbacks that have hit the university due to the pandemic. Only Tee Martin and Jay Graham accepted.

At the start of his media session, Pruitt addressed the situation. He defended those eight coaches who rejected the pay cuts and said he knows where their heart his at. Then came a quote that clearly implied pay cuts weren’t off the table for them. Here’s what he said.

"“The final chapter has not been written on that, and they will continue to look and see and meet with our administration to see whatever they can do to help supplement the university.”"

In addition to keeping the door open, Pruitt added that he knew there was a discussion about pay cuts but didn’t know what the results were until Toppmeyer’s article came out. However, he acknowledged that the article was factual.

From a personal standpoint, Pruitt said that he was going through the NCAA to try to help “supplement” other people’s salaries but noted he had to overcome a rule to do so. While he didn’t take a pay cut this year, he delayed a pay raise set to come with his contract extension.

Shawn Shamburger to miss the rest of 2020

A big story has been the issue in the secondary for the Vols this year, and it took a bigger hit with news on Monday. Senior Shawn Shamburger, who was last year’s top performer at nickel, will miss the rest of the season.

So far this year, Shamburger has only played two games. Pruitt said he’ll spend the rest of the year focusing on academics. Obviously, he could come back next year, but that’s still up in the air. Here’s what Pruitt said addressing the situation.

"“This has been a very unusual circumstance with this whole deal. You try to do school from home, not being in-person, again when you talk about tutors and things like that.”"

Related Story. Five best arguments for Vols to stick with Jeremy Pruitt. light

Quarterback situation fluid

What’s clear is that the backup quarterbacks are growing on Pruitt. He first touted how well Harrison Bailey, Brian Maurer and J.T. Shrout performed all last week. Bailey specifically received recognition, as Pruitt noted his improved confidence and command of the offense.

Given the fact that all that happened while Jarrett Guarantano was recovering from injury, you have to wonder if Tennessee football will go in a different direction this Saturday. This quote from Pruitt on Guarantano even further suggests he might do that.

"“He practiced yesterday, but all the other guys took a lot of reps over the last three practices, so, you know, we’ll see how the rest of the week goes here, but I was real excited about how these other guys continued to work, and I thought Jarrett had a good day yesterday."

Looking at that, it seems that Pruitt is getting more excited about Guarantano’s backups than he is Guarantano himself. Obviously, Bailey was always seen as the future while Shrout and Maurer provided competition as the backups.

Next. Five best arguments for Vol football to fire Jeremy Pruitt now. dark

Is Tennessee football going to fast-track that situation as it gets set to visit Auburn on Saturday? Don’t count out that possibility given the health of Guarantaon and the Vols’ situation right now. Pruitt’s quotes in this press conference certainly suggest something like that.