Pruitt had spent a lot of time in Tuscaloosa throughout his career and even replaced Kirby Smart as defensive coordinator for Nick Saban after Smart left for Georgia. Pruitt eventually got a head coaching job in the SEC, like Smart, but he didn’t win like Kirby.
It was quite an unprecedented coaching search that led the Vols to Pruitt as the replacement for Butch Jones. Athletic director John Currie wanted Greg Schiano, but that interest led to a fan revolt in Knoxville and Currie was placed on leave. Philip Fulmer replaced Currie and was tasked with the hiring.
Fulmer went with Pruitt over Chip Kelly, Dan Mullen, and Schiano. Others linked to the search (in order of success since 2018) were Jeff Brohm, Matt Campbell, Kevin Sumlin, and David Cutcliffe.
In three years from 2018 to 2020, he went 5-7, 8-5, and 3-7.