Since I have been a member of the Sports Media for close to a half-century, I feel obligated to call them out when I see or hear something wrong. That was the case yesterday as Tennessee's Jeremy Pruitt took the podium at the SEC Media Days in Atlanta. It seems that former Georgia players Aaron Murray and David Pollack accused Pruitt of being disrespectful to former Georgia coach Mark Richt when Pruitt was the Bulldog's defensive coordinator. They each called Pruitt , "hard to get along with. " The members of the media present at the SEC Media Days took the story and ran with it as if this was the biggest news of the day. This was such a non-story.
Now I know that some fans wanted to hear details of the story and that's to be expected but it wasn't an earth shattering piece of information.
For instance, Murray was an offensive player at Georgia, playing quarterback for the Bulldogs. I would imagine his access to Coach Pruitt was rather limited, and David Pollack wasn't even there when Pruitt was in Athens. He was obviously getting second-hand information. In addition, Pruitt's most recent head coach, Alabama's Nick Saban said he had no knowledge of Pruitt being anything other than professional in doing his job while being the defensive coordinator at Alabama.
I get it when it comes to defending Mark Richt. I agree with others that Coach Richt is one of the really nice guys in college football. I always enjoyed interviewing him at the SEC Media Days and he is a definite class act. Any altercations he may have had with Jeremy Pruitt should have stayed in the locker room where it may or may not have happened.
When asked about his dealings with Coach Richt, Pruitt politely declined to dignify the question. He wanted to talk about his team, his first head coaching job or his opponents this fall in the SEC. That's the kind of information that most fans really want to hear about. Young reporters today sometimes fail to think things through very well. A lot of them believe in sensationalism, which is defined as, " the use of exciting or shocking stories or language at the expense of accuracy, in order to provoke public interest or excitement. " It's not " fake news," it's no-news.
247sports called the Pruitt-Richt saga a, "silly storyline." The story was born on Nashville radio station, 102.5, The Game as Aaron Murray was interviewed about Pruitt becoming a first-time head coach at Tennessee. Murray said he "wasn't sure that Pruitt's personality was fit to be a head coach." That's all it took for some members of the sports media to pile on and run with it.
I know Tennessee fans have been disappointed in Pruitt's inability to work with the media, but maybe it's because of what they had for the previous four years. Butch Jones and his many tired cliches, like " Champions of life " or " Brick by Brick." Pruitt's grammar and his careless use of the English language has also caused a few folks to cover their ears when he speaks, but I know that all of them are giving him the benefit of the doubt. In other words, they'll wait before passing judgement.
We now have 43 days until the Vols open their season and I'm sure that 100% of the Big Orange fan base would prefer a few more wins and a few less cliches.
Randy Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org