After going 8-5 and winning the Gator Bowl in 2019, Tennessee football seemed poised to make some noise in 2020, it may have even felt like ’98 for some Vols fans. Well, it turns out this past season’s Vols team was a mess, quarterback Jarrett Guarantano took a giant step backward, and Jeremy Pruitt and his staff didn’t have the ability to turn things around en route to an abysmal 3-7 season.
Tennessee fans are some of the loudest in all of sports, so the ‘Fire Pruitt’ movement has been alive and well for months on Rocky Top. Based on recent reports out of Knoxville, fans may just get their wish.
Back in December, ESPN reported that the program was under investigation and compliance officials had interviewed current players, recruits, assistant coaches, volunteers, and others in the athletic department involved in football recruiting.
On Wednesday, ESPN’s Chris Low, a longtime Knoxville native and trusted Tennessee insider, said he thought it would be “difficult” for Pruitt to keep his job. Fast-forward just 24 hours and ESPN’s Mark Schlabach has added fuel to that fire reporting that the football team has paused all extensions and new hirings amid the investigation.
“While Tennessee officials wait for the investigation to be completed, the athletics department hasn’t renewed or extended the contracts of assistant coaches, some of whom have deals that expire at the end of this month, including running backs coach Tee Martin and inside linebackers coach Brian Niedermeyer.
The Volunteers also have at least two vacancies after head coach Jeremy Pruitt fired defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh after four games and offensive line coach Will Friend left the team last month. A Tennessee official said Pruitt has talked to potential candidates and that the university has vetted them, but confirmed new coaches haven’t been hired.”
Despite all of the turmoil surrounding the football program, the Vols did finished 15th in recruiting according to 247 Sports, good enough for sixth among fellow SEC teams for the 2021 class.
While the national championship game hasn’t even been played yet, if Tennessee does part ways with Pruitt they’ll be late to the coaching carousel party with Texas, Auburn, and other big-time programs already firing and replacing their coaches.