Here’s what the Tennessee football Volunteers head coach said after losing to the Auburn Tigers.
There’s no doubt that 2020 has been a rollercoaster of a Tennessee football season, but after its 30-17 loss to the Auburn Tigers, many fans want off of the ride. Right now, no name holds more real estate in the minds of Tennesseeans than Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt.
After a riveting conclusion to his 2019 season on Rocky Top, closing the season 6-0 with a bowl win, Pruitt and the Vols are unraveling with a now 2-5 record. Saturday’s loss to the Auburn Tigers marked the first time ever the Vols dropped five-straight games by double digits.
At first, the conversation amongst fans over whether or not Pruitt should be fired as Tennessee football head coach was tongue-in-cheek hearsay. But now, with Rocky Top on rock-bottom in just year three, Vol fans seem to be ready for another coaching search.
With each practice, press conference, game, and week that passes, the lives of those brave fans defending their head coach get harder and harder. Pruitt has seemingly turned Butch Jones’ “champions of life” into champions of practice. He is using the team’s practices as a blueprint on who to play on Saturdays rather than players’ track record on Saturday’s themselves.
After UT’s most recent loss and since then, however, Pruitt’s words have been tough to rationalize, and in some cases, contradicting his actions. Take a look at some of the things he had to discuss, starting with the play of Jarrett Guarantano.
If Pruitt were to lose his job, and we had to take a step back and analyze what ultimately did him in, it would probably come down to his inability to part ways with players from Butch Jones’ staff and playing the ones he recruited. Here he is stating that the team’s quarterback shouldn’t be throwing the ball to the other team, ever.
This is ironic because the quarterback he continues to start has thrown more touchdowns to opposing defenses (3) than his own receivers (2) since Tennessee football lost to the Kentucky Wildcats. This is not an anti-Guarantano post. There’s no denying he did things well against Auburn, but how many mistakes can one player make before the coach steps in?
We get what he’s saying here, but come on. This would be like Rick Barnes telling reporters that even though his team lost, they were the better offense because they led in time of possession and shots. If you’re not scoring and capitalizing when it counts, it doesn’t matter.
If you have successful drives but turn the ball over or miss field goals and have nothing to show, what good is that? His team is losing games. Production and results should take priority over efficiency. The Vols to losing by double digits and Pruitt letting Jim Chaney off the hook that easily shouldn’t be what fans want to see.
There are so many things wrong with this. Where’s the ownership? Where’s the accountability? He’s the head coach of Tennessee football’s program, meaning he should definitely have a statement a little heavier than this. Pruitt is the deciding factor in the direction this program goes. If he doesn’t know, then who does?
It should also be worth noting that while he shouldn’t be held accountable for the direction the program is going, he’s still aware that his job is to coach. By now, we’ve already read off what a historic catastrophe these last five games have been. Does he possible not know that fans would prefer him to coach and win?
What these words ultimately boil down to is what really does feel like: a lack of leadership in the Tennessee football program. Pruitt hasn’t been run out of Knoxville, there’s still time to show signs of fixing this mess, but there is a right way and a wrong way to deal with times of adversity.
If he is going to win back the fan base, Pruitt needs to do a better job of holding the coaching staff accountable and giving fans a reason to believe the Vols are heading in the right direction. He hasn’t done that recently.