Tennessee football: ‘Fire Pruitt’ movement may get very real with loss at Vandy

Tennessee's head coach Jeremy Pruitt after the Tennessee and Vanderbilt game on Saturday, November 30, 2019.Cj 39104
Tennessee's head coach Jeremy Pruitt after the Tennessee and Vanderbilt game on Saturday, November 30, 2019.Cj 39104 /

Jeremy Pruitt can’t afford for his Tennessee football Volunteers to lose to the Vanderbilt Commodores.

Look around. It doesn’t take much to see things aren’t going well in Knoxville. In these past two weeks alone the Vols have lost five commitments from their 2021 class, due largely in part to the 2-6 record they currently possess. Now, Jeremy Pruitt and Tennessee football have a chance to get back in the win column this Saturday.

There’s no way the Vols will lose to the 0-8 Vanderbilt Commodores in Nashville, Tenn. this weekend, right? After all, Vandy is playing with an interim head coach and is dealing with a wave of opt-outs, transfers and injuries.

Pruitt should have more to show in the record books considering the talent he has in his locker room. Up until this point, the “fire Jeremy Pruitt” movement on Rocky Top has come across as mostly nonsensical.

Sure, this season has been a failure. Considering Tennessee football finished last year on a six-game winning streak and opened up the 2020 season with two more wins, these last six games have been abysmal.

Along the way, Pruitt has contradicted himself multiple times, been condescending to media, and ultimately shown a lack of leadership and accountability for the mistakes he’s made. In comparison to his first two seasons, 2020 hasn’t been pretty.

With that being said, Pruitt inherited the worst team in UT history. Even his predecessor, Butch Jones, was given four full seasons. Many fans expect immediate results and forget this team is still very much in rebuild mode.

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Logistically speaking, the move to drop Pruitt right now wouldn’t be smart. Following a contract extension that fans are yet to truly hold Phillip Fulmer accountable for, Pruitt’s buyout number is somewhere around $12.88 million. That’s just simply too much to spend.

It’s much more likely, and should probably be expected, that Tennessee football fans see a couple of changes at the assistant coaching positions. There’s simply no excuse for Pruitt to have played Jarrett Guarantano for as long as he did, but with Harrison Bailey taking snaps, UT now at least looks like it could be moving in the right direction.

Jeremy Pruitt can’t afford to lose this weekend in Nashville.

But, what if disaster strikes and Pruitt and the Vols stumble again on Saturday? What if the Commodores pick up their first win of the season without an established coach on their sideline and no five-star rated players on the field? We don’t want to think that way but is that really out of the question? For those who are still sticking by Pruitt, losing this Saturday would be indefensible.

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Losing Hudson Wolfe, a four-star recruit at a position that UT has criminally undervalued in the last however many years, is not the end of the world for the Pruitt era. However, a loss to a win-less, coach-less Vanderbilt might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

No, a loss to Vanderbilt wouldn’t be as disastrous as the 2019 season-opening loss to Georgia State. Vanderbilt is still an SEC team – well, barely – but losing to 0-8 Vandy would be atrocious and beyond embarrassing.

Currently sitting as 14-point favorites, the odds appear to be in UT’s favor as this Saturday approaches. In what very well may be the Vols’ last good chance at adding another win to their record, you have to hope Pruitt and co. will pour salt in Vanderbilt’s wounds this weekend.

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As of right now, whether you believe he is the man for the job or not, Pruitt should have at least one more year on Rocky Top. That could change, though, if Tennessee football loses its seventh straight game on Saturday.