Videos by OutKick
Everyone likes Jeremy Pruitt. The head coach has done some good things at Tennessee. But that program in Knoxville is starting to head in the wrong direction. The latest double-digit loss to Auburn on Saturday proves that.
Once again, things looked promising early for the Vols.
They took an early 10-0 lead against the Tigers, but things fell apart from there. Auburn proceeded to outscore Pruitt’s squad 30-7 for a final score of 30-17, which dropped Tennessee’s record to 2-6 on the season. That’s not going to get it done, and Pruitt knows that.
Everyone knows the struggles start at the quarterback position. Senior Jarrett Guarantano continues to fall well short of early expectations, and that was put on full display when he tossed a 100-yard pick six to Smoke Monday to give Auburn a 20-10 lead.
The options behind Guarantano aren’t much better, and it’s impossible to win in the SEC without quality play at that position. It can be done to some degree (ask Georgia), but you have to be loaded with enough talent to compensate.
Tennessee is not in that position at this time, but there is enough talent in that program that should keep them from being 2-6. For that reason, Pruitt’s seat might be heating up.
The third-year head coach did just sign an extension before the season, so athletic director Phil Fulmer might not be ready to make a move in 2020. But if things don’t turn around quickly, Pruitt’s status as the leading man in Knoxville could come into question.
According to OutKick owner Clay Travis, the time to make a change might be now if the Vols can’t get something done next Saturday against Vanderbilt. And that change might include going after another former SEC coach, Liberty’s Hugh Freeze.
If Tennessee loses to Vandy next week — and they very well may do it — it’s time to fire Jeremy Pruitt and go hire Hugh Freeze. Talent isn’t bad at all. Freeze would win nine or ten with this team within two years. It’s way past time to do what must be done to be truly good.
Wouldn’t that be a wild switch?
It would be quite the turnaround for Tennessee to move on this year. But with the way things are going, it’s not completely outside the realm of possibility. Let’s see how the Vols look against the Commodores next weekend (I can’t believe I’m actually saying that).
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.