Jeremy Pruitt and “Tuscaloosa Pixie Dust”

I’m going to say it again:  Jeremy Pruitt’s biggest problem going forward at Tennessee won’t be the Nick Saban comparisons.  It’ll be the Kirby Smart comparisons.

Pruitt comes across as a man who spends zero energy attempting to be something he’s not. He’s a good, old-fashioned football coach, and his demeanor feels like manna from heaven following a five-year period spent covering a man who had the audacity to tell me a cow pie was chocolate ice cream and the naivety to think I would eat it.

In that light, Pruitt’s performance Wednesday was enjoyable to experience. He went to bat for the players on his current roster and the players he’d just signed, but he didn’t deny that his staff went for the fences in this class and came up short in a recruiting cycle that was stacked against him and his staff for many legitimate reasons. That’s a fine line to walk, but I believe Pruitt walked it well.

After speaking to the press Wednesday afternoon, Pruitt and his staff went to the Tennessee Theater in downtown Knoxville and spoke perhaps even more candidly to a loud and proud crowd that seemed equally happy to hear a more honest voice from a Vols football coach.

Pruitt said he didn’t care about recruiting rankings, but then he stuck his neck out and boldly declared that he and his staff would produce different results with a full year on the recruiting trail. He said without hesitation that Tennessee would have a class at the “very top” of the national rankings next season, and he said it with so much conviction that I believe he really believed it.

It’s going to be a tough haul.  Richt left the Georgia program in better shape for Smart than Booch did for Pruitt.  Georgia, as we’ve just seen, is much more fertile recruiting grounds than Tennessee will ever be, and Smart has also shown that he’s going to devote all his effort into making sure the in state program is the first choice for those recruits he wants for his program.  Kirby’s transitional class was much better than the 2018 Tennessee class appears to be, at least on paper.  And “very top” has a specific meaning to me, and, more importantly, to the Urnge hordes.  Pruitt’s got his work cut out for him.

For Pruitt to succeed at the level Vol fans want, it won’t be enough for him to be as good as Smart.  He’s going to have to be better.  If he’s not, he’s going to hear about it.


Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange

29 responses to “Jeremy Pruitt and “Tuscaloosa Pixie Dust”

  1. barneydawg

    How much had he been drinking when he said that? Maybe Phat gave him his secret (not so much) recruiting recipe from back in the day when he had the SEC commish in his back pocket. Even if Pruitt gets a great class next year, I doubt he will be there to see it come to fruition. By that time Fulmer will be the “interim” head coach.


  2. Starbreaker

    It’s pretty well known that Pruitt’s a great recruiter…we saw that ourselves here. However, there’s a HUGE difference between being an individually great contributor in recruiting and organizing and executing a full-blown recruiting strategy covering all facets of the team’s needs. What I think separates Kirby from the masses (and probably the past Sabanites) is he has that same attention to detail and organizational skills that made the boss so freaking good. Toss in the fact that UT does not have the in-state talent and they are, at this point, so far removed from their “past glory” that most kids don’t even remember a time when UT was a legit contender, and it’s a tough climb for him.


    • W Cobb Dawg

      A tough climb indeed. Where’s CJP gonna focus his efforts is a huge question. Kirby’s gonna fight like hell for top GA kids – just ask saban how tough it’s gotten. Virtually no in-state talent to speak of in Tennessee. The state of Florida is a battle royale with recruiters on every street corner. A 4 or 5 star bama or Louisiana kid going to ut – not gonna happen. Scu has Bmac and Boom recruiting, and Kirby still sniped the top LB in the state. Harbaugh’s southern strategy just got hammered.

      Nope, CJP is in a nationwide search for anything he can get. He’s gonna be doing A LOT of long distance traveling. Plus, he’s gonna need excellent talent analysis. There are good reasons why sooo many people turned the ut job down.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m having a difficult time putting Pruitt on my hate list as a UGA fan. Not too long ago he was just a HS assistant coach, and frankly his time at UGA was a catalyst for where we are today. He certainly kicked the fire ant mound when nobody else dared to.


  4. You are correct that was a bit of a hijack from the subject of the article. Just noting that some of us may have a tougher time wishing him to fail miserably as we are expected to do with any rival.


    • I suspect Fulmer makes that easier to swallow. 😉

      Liked by 3 people

    • Uglydawg

      It’s tough to have to pull against a former team mate or coach, but in this instance, I consider Fulmer, and the toothless hoard, the Neyland cow pasture, and then Fumer again and realize JP is a now a part of it all. This helps. I don’t really hate anyone, but I don’t care for T.
      What I hope for is JP to have the Vols looking great in their opener, Phat Phil pissing him off by taking the credit and glory, fur flying and CJP getting fired because he stuffed Phil’s head up his own ass on TV during the after game interview, and then going on to get a great job at Michigan that went winlesss in 18.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. 3rdandGrantham

    Comparing Pruitt to Smart or UT/UGA just isn’t fair. As I’ve been saying all along, just look at UT’s last three recruiting classes (including this one). It’s a vast wasteland of ho-hum 3 star types, and UGA’s inherent recruiting advantages over UT are vast.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Comin' Down The Track

      You’re exactly right, 3rd. “Fair” (or not) is precisely how a rational mind would perceive that comparison. Might I offer that Rocky Top is not particularly famous for its rationality.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Russ

    Ain’t happening. He will get some players and will be moderately successful, but he’s in too big of a hole against Kirby to make up all that ground.


  7. I fully expect Tenn to have a top-10 class (and perhaps top-5) next year. The second class bump is real and Pruitt and Co will recruit hard this cycle.


    • No doubt. But he’s surrounded by hard recruiters in Saban, Smart, Boom, etc…

      Liked by 1 person

    • 3rdandGrantham

      Around #10 at most, and no way he gets a top 5 class. Tennessee is not a great state in terms of HS talent, thus they’ve always had to look to GA, FL, and NC for their talent. With Smart locking down GA and seemingly everyone poaching from NC and FL, Pruitt has his work cut out for them.
      If Saban struck out in GA last year and this year, what makes you think Pruitt will suddenly roll in and have a lot of success recruiting to a program that is a sub .500 SEC win program dating back to the Clinton admin?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rocket Dawg

        If you are a student of college football history then you will note that the “glory days” of UT and UF to a certain degree coincided with a very down UGA. Tennessee doesn’t “grow” the caiber or the sheer number of recruits as a state like Georgia or Florida. Will Pruitt have some success recruiting Georgia using exsiting relationships? Yes he will. Will it be enough to return UT to the “glory days” of 9+ wins and competing for the division title? I doubt it. I don’t see the Kirby train slowing down anytime soon and while we may not get 7 or 8 five stars every cycle the chasm between UGA and the rest of the East is growing.


      • Butch Jones signed a top-5 class at Tenn, no?


  8. Uglydawg

    I noticed one report from yesterday…Kirby said he missed the kid tossing the Tennessee hat because he wasn’t watching…he was watching video of potential recruiting targets for 2019 and beyond.
    That says a lot.
    It especially tells me that Saban has to be missing CKS a lot more than we imagined.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. steve

    ‘He said without hesitation that Tennessee would have a class at the “very top” of the national rankings…’ If I am not mistaken, Rucker is incorrect. Pruitt actually said ‘….at the “very top” of the SEC’. Pretty big difference and doable. But you know what Billy Bob would say to CJP; ‘wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which one fills up faster’


  10. mdcgtp

    Kudos to the writer of that article to make sure UT fans who are having withdrawal symptoms from Butch Jones’ use of cliches were given their fix of them!


  11. Normaltown Mike

    Per Rivals, UT is 20, 15, 15, 5, 5, 21 over the past 6 season.

    Those two top 5’s in 2015 and 2014 resulted in jack squat so I’d say that Pruitt has his work cut out.


  12. tbia

    The other variable is that Pruitt is a jackass once you really get to know him.

    Tennessee will not be relevant again until Nashville grows to produce 40 TOPNOTCH recruits a year. That day will come, but even then Tennessee has to figure out how to own that city

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Cojones

    Yall still can’t see the forest for the trees in this recruiting business. This class is not a resultant of Kirby’s recruiting prowess as much as it’s a bow in his direction for putting together an excellent team of recruiters that boasts the best recruiter in all of CFB, Dell McGee.

    Sure, Kirby busts his ass making himself available in all households, but the convincin’ comes from Dell and Scott and….you know. Those assistants have very persuasive powers after latching onto the vagaries of 17-18 yr old minds outlined down to their shoelaces by many assistants who are the unseen in this operation. The assistants, grad or otherwise, crunch the numbers and keep the personal info supply train coming from the rear echelon to the guys fighting the mental battles on the front line. Kirby is the General, not the convincer, and he impresses the minions with his sincerity and humbleness in front of Moms and Families while his staff goes to work moving the chit-chat into the young guy’s mindset.

    The idea that it is a head-to-head contest between Kirby and Pruitt is almost a ridiculous thought. Pruitt will get his assistant recruiters’ shit together and stroke onward like he knows how from knowledge acquired at FSU, UGA, ‘Bama and sundry places he has coached and watched intelligently for years. The idea that he is going to pull together a class by himself is a stupid thought that passes only through minds in Knoxville and elsewhere in urnge fan land. Kirby has his shit together first and mostest and that will soon be followed by Pruitt after he settles in at UT. It was not a small thing that Bluto mentions (Richt’s previous recruiting), and they had no small part in Kirby’s success thus far. Pruitt and his team have much more work cut out for them and, I fear, will prove to be as effective as Kirby’s recruiting team has been, but it will take longer for them to realize fruition.


  14. Macallanlover

    I don’t hate Pruitt at all, I just think he is ill-equipped skill wise to be in the HC position. He is a tenacious recruiter and a solid defensive mind but his personality makes it unlikely he will be on top of managing the inevitable conflicts in an organization of alphas, and he is not smooth enough to do the continual meet and greets with powerful alums used to getting their way, pushing folks around, and being pandered to. If he has become that polished in the past two years I would be shocked, just isn’t the way he is put together. Add a sleaze ball like Foolmer to the mix and it seems doomed to fail.

    Not that he will won’t have a better recruiting class next year, he has lots of playing time to offer better players than on the current roster, and he can sell the transition stage/turnaround issues for a while. He will also climb back past Vandy and Kentucky, but doubt he gets much ahead of SC given his starting position. That hiring mess has left a lasting impression in many people’s minds, Pruitt has a lot to overcome….especially with the Doughnut Monster looking over his shoulder.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cojones

      Your first para could have been written about Kirby two years ago and I’m sure that those words have been seen here in the past couple of years while describing him..


      • Macallanlover

        I don’t think so. There were some legitimate questions about how he would check the boxes once he got his own program, because no one knew. But KS did not have the “bull in the china shop” reputation that has been assigned to Pruitt, nor had he bounced from job to job as Pruitt had. One thing about staying in one place for a long time, it is hard to hide the warts from everyone. Pruitt could fool everyone who doubts him being ready, but I tell you what: I will take Kirby on the over/under six years as a HC, and you take Pruitt on the same bet. I will give you 2/1 odds, maybe even 3/1.


  15. TimberRidgeDawg

    I have to say he looks funny wearing orange.

    Given some of the stories about his time in Athens maybe its better if he’s easy to spot if things get sideways on him.

    His first year looks to be interesting. He’s a first year HC with a first year OC and DC. Kirby hired a lot experience in the coordinator positions. Even if people have mixed feelings about Chaney, he brings a lot of experience and stability to that side of the ball along with Pittman and Coley. A very good thing for first time HC who spent his life on the other side of ball.


  16. Mike Cooley

    So Pruitt posts as Cojones on this board. Who knew?