Randy Smith: Finally, Vols Hire A Coach

Thursday, December 7, 2017 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
On Wednesday night, word began to spread throughout Big Orange Country that Tennessee had finally made an offer to a new head football coach. That  offer was accepted by Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and after three and a half weeks since Butch Jones was fired the Volunteers had their man. The entire process wasn't quite that simple. It took national embarrassment, being turned down numerous times by coaches all over the country and the dismissal of an athletic director to get the job done.
That process came under fire from NCAA President Mark Emmert who spoke of the collapse of communication between U.T. administrators and athletic department personnel. The man spoke the truth.

Former head football coach Phillip Fulmer came to the rescue and hired a coach in five days; the way it was supposed to be done. Jeremy Pruitt is a good quality hire for the Vols, though he may not be the "sexy" hire some Tennessee fans wanted. Pruitt has guided the Crimson Tide defense for two seasons since Kirby Smart left for Georgia. He has a reputation for helping to develop players who are extremely physical and very well disciplined. All you have to do is look at Alabama and see the results.

Pruitt is well respected in the coaching community. He is an outstanding recruiter and a tireless worker. He's the guy that impressed Coach Fulmer more than any other and my advice to Tennessee fans who wanted Jon Gruden or Mike Leach , is to get behind Coach Pruitt and support him 100%. 

Tennessee is allowing Pruitt to stay on at Alabama and coach the team's defense in the College Football Playoffs on January 1st, though he will be pulling double duty as he puts together a staff and heads recruiting efforts for the Vols.  That recruiting effort has been a hot topic for several weeks as the Vols have dropped from a top five class for 2018, to somewhere in the mid thirties. They have had a bunch of decommitments and now that they had head coach in place there is a possibility they could return a few of them into the fold. Only time will tell.

This is not going to be a quick fix for the Vols. There is some talent in Knoxville but it's going to take a couple of years before Tennessee can be expected to compete for an SEC East title. There is also the "toxicity" within the athletic department to deal with. Fulmer now can settle into the day-to-day running of the athletic department, but his staff is currently filled with John Currie's people. It remains to be seen how loyal they will be to Coach Fulmer or how long they will stay in their current positions. 

This process, the one that caused such embarrassment and discord within Tennessee's athletic structure will also prove to be quite costly. They could owe Greg Schiano a great deal of money after that hiring fiasco almost two weeks ago. They also owe former coach Butch Jones and his staff a big buyout, and they will likely owe John Currie money as well. 

Things are not good in Big Orange Country. They are a bit better this morning as new head coach Jeremy Pruitt will be introduced later today , but there is still much work to be done. To quote legendary former coach Johnny Majors, "We're one foot away from hell. But we're headed in the right direction." 

* * *

Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer.  His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for 30 years. He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga television for more than a quarter-century. In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith. They have five grandchildren, Coleman, Boone, Mattingly, DellaMae, and CoraLee.



PREP SCHEDULES

PREP FOOTBALL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE - SEMI-FINALS

Georgia Northwestern Drops Doubleheader At Home


PREP BASKETBALL WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 21 Dalton Tournament Ridgeland Tournament MLK Classic – Brainerd FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 23 Maryville Heritage Thanksgiving Tournament – Baylor ... (click for more)

TSSAA State Semi-Finals: Division I Friday, November 23rd (7 p.m. Local) Class 1A: Greenback (12-0) at Whitwell (12-0) Class 2A: Meigs County (12-0) at Trousdale Co. (9-3) (click for more)

Tuesday night was another tough one for the Georgia Northwestern Bobcats and Lady Bobcats who both endured home losses. In the opener, Campbellsville University-Harrodsburg out of Kentucky ... (click for more)


Sports

PREP SCHEDULES

PREP BASKETBALL WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 21 Dalton Tournament Ridgeland Tournament MLK Classic – Brainerd FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 23 Maryville Heritage Thanksgiving Tournament – Baylor Bradley Central Thanksgiving Tournament 11 am - Bradley vs. Creekview (GA) 12:30 - Grace Christian vs. Daniel Boone 2:00 - McMinn Central vs. Eagles Landing (GA) 3:30 - Sullivan ... (click for more)

PREP FOOTBALL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE - SEMI-FINALS

TSSAA State Semi-Finals: Division I Friday, November 23rd (7 p.m. Local) Class 1A: Greenback (12-0) at Whitwell (12-0) Class 2A: Meigs County (12-0) at Trousdale Co. (9-3) (click for more)

Breaking News

County Commission Votes To Give Humane Educational Society $10 Million For New Shelter

The County Commission on Wednesday morning voted to give the Humane Educational Society (HES) $10 million for a new animal shelter. Commissioner Chip Baker said he had considered asking for a delay for talks on possible merging of services with the city's McKamey Animal Center. However, he said he was advised that the HES could lose out on a potential donor if the vote was delayed. ... (click for more)

Eddie Pierce Chosen New Red Bank Mayor; Ruth Jeno Returns To Commission

Three newly elected commissioners were sworn in by Judge Gary Starnes at the Red Bank Commission meeting on Tuesday night. Two are returning, Commissioners Ed LeCompte and Terry Pope, and the third, Ruth Jeno, is returning, after a lapse, for a third term on the commission. The commissioners elected Eddie Pierce to serve as the new mayor and Terry Pope to be vice mayor. ... (click for more)

Opinion

Discrimination And Double Taxation For Animal Shelters - And Response

Some Commissioners want Hamilton County to donate $10 million in tax dollars to help the Humane Education Society (HES) build a new facility. The majority of Hamilton County residents (specifically those residing in Chattanooga, East Ridge, Lakesite, Walden, Signal Mountain, Lookout Mountain, Soddy Daisy, and Collegedale) will be prohibited from using HES animal services unless ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Thanksgiving Eve

At some point this spring, as I impatiently awaited the song birds as I do every year, I took a less-traveled path during My Morning Readings and came across a Thanksgiving story that I loved. Trust me, I have been waiting for about six months … yes, impatiently … to share a story that was written seven years ago by J. Allen Wilson. I searched for him yesterday but the closest ... (click for more)