Is this year’s “Georgia hired Kirby Smart to be the next Nick Saban” going to be “Tennessee hired Jeremy Pruitt to be the next Kirby Smart”? Barrett Sallee takes off down that path.
But Pruitt is still a first-time coach who’s going to make rookie coach mistakes. He’ll forget to call for the punt team, mismanage the clock, unnecessarily use timeouts and do all of the other things that first-timers might plan for, but struggle with when it comes down to execution.
It even happened with Kirby Smart at Georgia in his first year in 2016, and he was with Nick Saban at Alabama and the NFL‘s Miami Dolphins for a full decade. One year later, those two were squaring off for all the marbles.
Easy peasy. Although he goes on to qualify, “That’s not to say that Pruitt will follow in Smart’s footsteps.”
Sallee sees a rockier (topped?) road for Pruitt than Smart had because the talent base he inherits in Knoxville is at a lower level than what Smart started with — amazing how Georgia’s incredible disappearing class of 2013 is already a faded memory — and because UT’s S&C program needs a complete rebuild. I’m skeptical on both fronts about the comparisons, but I do think starting out Pruitt has a harder row to hoe than Smart did in one important aspect: the SEC East in 2018 is a tougher neighborhood than the one Smart moved into a couple of seasons ago.
That being said, if the Vols aren’t playing in the 2019 SECCG, expect the Smart comparisons to crop up in Knoxville. And not in a good way.