Jeremy Pruitt isn’t the only Tennessee Football coach that has been let go. Nine assistant coaches have also been fired as of Tuesday morning.
After an abysmal season, a rough stint on the recruiting trail, and an investigation, Jeremy Pruitt is unemployed, as well as at least nine assistant coaches. Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer is also stepping down after failing to get Tennessee Football back to where they once were in the late 90s.
Of the nine other coaches fired after Pruitt, tight ends coach Brian Niedermeyer and outside linebackers coach Shelton Felton are among the most notable coaches to be let go. This also gives Kevin Steele, who was recently hired, to take over as acting head coach until the university can hire a new A.D. or head coach to take over full-time.
Steele is familiar with the university, the football program, and Knoxville from his playing time with Tennessee, so I’m sure he’ll be among the handful of candidates the school interviews for the job.
With it being the second half of January already, most coaches that would be considered for the job have already settled into new positions or might not be interested in leaving their current program so close to spring. It’s an awkward time to look for a head coach, but it’s not impossible if the Vols want to hire outside the program.
Depending on how long the search for Tennessee’s next athletic director takes, Steele could serve as Tennessee’s interim head coach this fall. This could be seen as a try-out for Steele but also give the university some extra time to find their guy for 2022.
This means the Vols might not get back to where they were just a few short years ago until 2024 or later. It might be in the university’s best interest to hire a new head coach sooner rather than later so they don’t have to wait until we’re halfway into the decade to hopefully be competitive in the SEC again.
There are some options out there, but we don’t know who the new A.D. will be or could be, so it’s hard to judge who they would be interested in going after. Over the past decade or so, the Vols have gotten familiar with the national spotlight, but not for winning.
Instead, the Vols have made themselves known as basketball and football programs that run through coaches. If you want to advance your career, just look at the past four Tennessee coaches; Rocky Top might not be the best for you.
Tennessee’s best bet is to hire a guy who knows how to run a Power 5 program, no matter what that program is. Whether it’s Ole Miss, Iowa State, North Carolina State, or Texas, the Vols need a guy who knows how to be a head coach and run a Power 5 program to at least keep the Vols on track to continue building success, and I have a few ideas of who that guy could be.