Jeremy Pruitt and the Tennessee football program could be in a world of trouble.
The Tennessee football program has had a hiring freeze placed on it due to alleged recruiting violations committed during Jeremy Pruitt’s time in Knoxville.
Per Mark Schlabach of ESPN, “Tennessee officials haven’t extended the contracts of assistant football coaches and have paused hiring coaches for vacancies as the Volunteers continue to investigate whether recruiting violations occurred within the program.”
“We take seriously our institutional commitment to NCAA compliance, and are reviewing regulatory issues that have been brought to our attention,” said university spokeswoman Tyra Haag in a statement.
“As part of that process, we are currently working with attorneys Kyle Skillman and Michael Glazier with Bond, Schoeneck & King. We will provide additional information when it’s appropriate.”
Could this be the end of the line for Jeremy Pruitt at Tennessee?
The allegations in question surround five-star offensive tackle Amarius Mims’ recruitment, who signed with SEC East rival Georgia, as well as sophomore running back Eric Gray, who was held out of Tennessee’s season finale vs. the Texas A&M Aggies for undisclosed reasons at the time. This has led to major issues in Pruitt being able to backfill and retain key positions on his staff.
Tennessee has two coaching staff vacancies with former defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh being fired mid-season and former offensive line coach Will Friend leaving for SEC East rival South Carolina, only to reportedly leave with former Gamecocks offensive coordinator Mike Bobo to join Bryan Harsin’s Auburn Tigers staff.
It should be noted running backs coach Tee Martin and inside linebackers coach Brian Niedermeyer’s contracts are up at the end of the month. Martin is a Tennessee legend, as he was the Vols quarterback back in that magical 1998 season under current athletic director Phillip Fulmer. Pruitt is also set to receive a six-figure retention bonus in the middle of February.
Overall, Pruitt was in hot water after his third year at Tennessee anyway. The Vols went a terrible 3-7 in SEC-only play when he clearly had 6-4, maybe even 7-3 talent on the roster. Tennessee’s only wins this season were over SEC East foes South Carolina, Missouri and Vanderbilt. The gap between Tennessee and SEC East title contenders Georgia and the Florida Gators is massive.
So is Pruitt’s job in jeopardy? Let’s just say these alleged recruiting violations are making his seat incredible hot in Knoxville these days. There is already smoke in East Tennessee because of The Great Smoky Mountains, but as the old tried cliche goes, where there is smoke, there is fire. A hiring freeze in early January is the latest of a long list of problems for Tennessee football.
Let’s keep an eye out for any smoke signals coming out of Rocky Top on this developing story.