Tennessee football is once again searching for a new head coach after announcing that Jeremy Pruitt would not be returning for another season.
Just when you thought that they hiring cycle for coaches was complete in college football, the most dysfunctional athletic department in the country surprised us all on Monday morning when they fired head coach Jeremy Pruitt. Tennessee is firing Pruitt after shortly announcing an investigation into recruiting violations.
Pruitt finished his three-year run with the Volunteers with a 16-19 record, with 16 of those 19 losses coming by double digits.
The program appeared as if it might be on an upswing after finishing the 2019 season on a six-game winning streak and a win over Indiana in the bowl game. After a 2-0 start to this season, Tennessee would finish 1-7 the rest of the way and it did not look the program was making actual progress, despite the end to the 2019 season and a top 25 recruiting class that was coming in.
Tennessee coaching searches have been a bit interesting in the past.
Before Pruitt was hired in 2018, the Volunteers went through an extensive list of candidates to replace Butch Jones. It was rumored at the time that Tennessee was giving a serious look at Mike Gundy, Mike Leach, Dave Doeren and Greg Schiano.
It appeared as if Schiano was going to take the job before the backlash by Tennessee fans over rumors about him and his time at Penn State. Then-athletic director John Currie backed off hiring Schiano and Currie was then replaced by former head coach Phillip Fulmer, who is rumored to be retiring today. Fulmer decided to hire Pruitt, who was the defensive coordinator for Alabama at the time. It’s safe to say that Pruitt did not work out at Tennessee and what is even more interesting, Schiano appears to be making the most of his second chance with Rutgers.
Tennessee is a tough job to adequately fill. On one hand, they have the money and facilities necessary to compete with the big time programs, but when you are competing with Alabama, Georgia and Florida for big time recruits in the SEC, it can make the job difficult and all three of those programs are operating at a very high level.
Tennessee has a passionate fanbase and that has been viewed as a positive and a negative, especially after the way the coaching search went down. It’s a good job, but expectations take it down a notch, in my opinion.
If this coaching search is anything like the last one, buckle up.
Here are the three candidates I think could replace Pruitt at Tennessee.