You know, when Nick Saban chided Alabama fans for not staying in their seats for the entirety of games, I thought it was mockable. I mean, if you want the fans to stay 60 minutes, give ’em something more than watching your fourth-string quarterback hand off to your fifth-string tailback six times in a row in the fourth quarter of a six-touchdown rout of a cupcake.
When Kirby Smart turned Georgia’s spring game from a pleasant day trip for the fan base into a recruiting mission, I was mildly irritated, but recognized that at least he’s given us something to be excited about and seemed genuinely grateful for our turnout.
As far as Jeremy Pruitt’s bizarre chastisement of UT’s fans?
“To me, it’s kind of like our football team for the fans. The ones that were here, I’m proud they’re here. They’re fired up, ready to get going. And then there were some people that weren’t here, they had legitimate reasons they couldn’t be here. Then there were some people that weren’t here, why weren’t they here? It’s kind of like our football team. I think we all need to look in the mirror and see who we want to be.”
Welp, it sure seems like somebody needs to look in the mirror, alright.
Anyway, I guess that’s part of what comes these days from the Saban coaching tree, so while I can’t say I excuse that line of thinking, at least I get what it’s about. What I don’t get is what I suppose is the next stage in this — the media taking steps to normalize these coaches’ expectations/demands of their fan bases. Take, for example, Barrett Sallee’s defense of Pruitt.
Isn’t this what you wanted, Vol fans? Don’t you want the best? Don’t you expect the best? Don’t you want a coach who strives for perfection in every aspect of the program?
That’s what Nick Saban does at Alabama, and that’s what Kirby Smart has implemented at Georgia. Not coincidentally, those are the two teams that played in the College Football Playoff National Championship in January.
Pruitt might not be as successful as either of his two mentors, and certainly has a steeper hill to climb than they do considering the tradition at Alabama and the fertile recruiting ground that exists in Smart’s backyard. But at least he’s following a tried-and-true blueprint that has proven to be successful.
Could he work on his delivery? Maybe. After all, talking down — or even giving off the appearance of talking down — to your own fan base prior to ever coaching a real game is a bold move.
If by “bold” you mean “dick”, I suppose you have a point there, Barrett. A somewhat creepy point, but a point nonetheless.
Seriously, when did we cross the line from being passionate about a program to being enlisted in Gawd’s Army? Jeremy Pruitt is being paid nearly four million dollars a year to win football games and that somehow entitles him to make demands on a fan base — a fan base that’s put up with years of mediocre football, by the way — that forks over the bucks that contribute to his paycheck? What other organized sport approaches its fans like that?
I suppose the next development will be for a coach or his athletic director to blame a sub-par season or recruiting class on inadequate fan support. And there will probably be some pundit out there ready to stroke his chin and admit there’s something to that excuse. When the coach or AD gets canned, at least they’ll have a sweet buyout provision to fall back on. All we fans will get is a guilt trip from the new guy in town. And then we’ll be told to like it.
23 responses to “Today, in it just means more”
I had similar thoughts the other day when I saw this. Just exactly how serious am I, a fan, supposed to be about teenagers playing a game? It’s getting a little weird.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Exactly what I thought. They’d better be careful telling people to look in the mirror and think about who they want to be – fans may practice their piano or hang out with their kids or go for a run instead of killing all day and night on a Saturday watching football!
Pruitt is an ignorant redneck who looks like a dick with ears. He and Tennessee deserve each other.
LikeLiked by 2 people
just spewed coffee all over the computer screen
I have to give it to Kirby. He never pointed the finger outside the program in 2016. He embraced the expectations of the fan base when he arrived and tempered them when we needed to hear it (even when we didn’t want to). I hope when we hit a rough patch, he doesn’t go to an “in the arena” comment or complain about an “entitled” fan base.
If you haven’t seen the video of Kirby from the locker room after the game on Saturday, go find it on social media … Kirby gets it. It’s awesome that we have found someone who loves Georgia like Ray Goff while coaching like … dare I say it, Nick Saban. It’s the Process with a human face.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Let’s not gloss over the fact that Kirby in year 2 was A LOT less prickly, and more polished, than in Year 1. You’re right that he never pointed the finger at fans directly, but he certainly improved his relationship and management of the media and fans. Maybe year 1 as a HC is just a shit-ton of pressure, and it is a struggle with how that pressure plays out in public. Whether Kirby just felt better about his team and himself in year 2, or did personal work to better himself emotionally and professionally, good on him. I’d like to give Pruitt the benefit of the doubt that he will likewise better himself in future years, but from all reports and impressions he doesn’t seem to have the same track record of commitment and personal responsibility that Kirby has shown.
LikeLiked by 1 person
If Pruitt wins, UT fans will hail his demand for excellence. If he loses, they will demand his head. Pruitt sees what he has there (not much), so he’s pushing as hard as he can in the hopes he can get ahead of the lynch mob. I’m not saying his decision to take a job with ridiculous expectations should constitute an emergency on the part of the average UT fan, but I think there are only two ways to excel: do something nobody else can do, or do what everyone else does better than anyone. Pruitt is opting for the latter, much like Kirby.
I get where Pruitt is coming from. I don’t know why Sallee thinks it’s worth defending.
Sallee is Tony Barnhart Jr. He’s defending DWE so he can preserve access.
DWE – new lexicon entry? I think so.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I had my reasons to stay home from G-Day and did not feel guilty for doing so. I’m way too old for anyone to make me feel guilty about anything. Pruitt and all coaches would be wise to consider most of their fans feel that way. He made an attempt to acknowledge that before he went off on the looking in the mirror slant.
Maybe I just read it differently but this seems to be a typical tongue in cheek, quip from Pruitt. I didn’t perceive him chiding fans as much as a perverse way to motivate fans
The body language in the video does not read as quip. It is very much one of Pruitt being a dick. The whole video. One reporter asked about how much better the QB Guarantono (sp?) played than during last season, and Pruitt refused to even mention him by name or say anything positive about his own top QB. I get the whole putting pressure into the system, but there is no carrot in Pruitt’s messaging, only stick…
Yeah never good to underestimate Pruitt’s jerkitude
Most football coaches understand that leading young men requires you break them down psychologically, build them back up methodically under the team identity while reinforcing your authority daily to keep them focused. This works in military too.
The problem for Pruitt is that he is not nuanced enough to see the need to treat the fans, fellow coaches and administrators differently than the players.
Had he spent a year without a job following his UGA experience, he might have reflected on this. However, being hired Saban and finding success seems to have reinforced his mindset. Saban and Kirby are more intelligent than Pruitt and have greater self control, and when Pruitt faces adversity, his personality weaknesses become more pronounced. I predict a rocky road on rocky top.
There’s a reason the military wants kids and not grown men to “reshape”.
And those recruits know what they are signing up for. They want to be challenged.
But football players, two to four years into their college careers, aren’t going to be reshaped that easily. Some are still hanging on to the glory they had heaped upon them in high school and reinforced in college.
Pruitt has to walk a fine line in running off the non-conformists while tweaking the attitude of those who can still be turned without poisoning the whole program. These are kids who are down and out after losing every SEC game last year..and with a losing streak against every SEC school. They have lost to Vandy twice running.
Pruitt has to be a surgeon and a bouncer. He’s more adept at the latter. And he won’t have the luxury of finding kids eager to play at UT as Kirby and Nick do at their schools.
He’s got a lot of tedious work to do.
“Walking a fine line” meets “Bull in the china shop”. Should be a fun 3 years.
I think it’s an exercise in journalistic malpractice that the author of that piece altered the Pruitt quote to correct his grammar.
My kids have their games on Saturdays. And yes, I care far more about my 7 year old’s soccer games than I do about Georgia football…because I’m not insane.
Hell of a look to walk out of a 100k-seat stadium that’s home to a team with a dozen SEC titles and complain about fan support.
In Year 1, before you’ve got any wins or losses, all you can do is use the honeymoon to sell a glorious vision of what could be to fans and recruits. As a point of comparison, I prefer the approach Mullen is taking to that of Pruitt. But I hear it’s probably not a good idea to have Pruitt knocking on sorority house doors.
Regardless, much ado. The fans Pruitt is complaining about will be around long after he’s gone.
Pruitt is just laying the groundwork to get fired. In a matter of months, not years, he’s gonna go right back to bama with a massive orange buyout check. And what the heck does fulmer care if utk gets hit for another huge payout? He’s gonna jump right into that HC void. It’s all going according to plan.
For someone who didn’t know what asparagus was until 2002, pruitt wouldnt scare me too much if I were a vol fan.