Former Tennessee Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt may soon return to a college football sideline.
There appears to be serious momentum building towards a Pruitt-Alabama reunion.
Pruitt served as Alabama’s defense coordinator for two seasons before getting the job at Tennessee. He was also an assistant at Alabama under Nick Saban from 2007 to 2012.
ESPN’s Cole Cubelic suggested Wednesday during an appearance on Paul Finebaum’s show that Pruitt is Saban’s first choice to replace Pete Golding as the Crimson Tide’s defensive coordinator.
“I think that’s why (Pruitt’s history with Saban in Alabama) Nick Saban is probably his first choice,” Cubelic said. “He knows what he’s going to do, he knows they can push each other to the limit. I also think, Paul, that there’s a part of Jeremy Pruitt that understands how and can go toe-to-toe with Nick Saban. And when I say that, I don’t mean that they have a boxing match at the facility. But he can challenge Nick Saban: “Why are we calling this? We have to lead this. We don’t have to be in that alignment. We don’t have to be in this staff group here. We’ll probably get that.’ And Nick Saban has enough respect to understand that Jeremy Pruitt isn’t doing this just to prove he has some kind of authority or to rip the head coach’s chest out.”
“He’s doing it because it would be best for his defense,” Cubelic added. “And I think Nick Saban probably feels like he needs a little bit of that. He needs a little resistance to what he thinks defensively every day at this facility.
The only hurdle here is that Pruitt still doesn’t know what kind of punishment he will receive from the NCAA for his role in the recruiting violations that got him fired in Tennessee.
Looking back, given the new NIL landscape, these breaches don’t seem that bad (reportedly the benefits were around $60,000, and they were mostly used to help recruit/player families with medical expenses, rent, etc.).
We should soon know what punishment Tennessee and Pruitt face.
If Pruitt doesn’t get hit with a show-cause penalty, I think in a way we’ll see him again in Alabama.
And that’s not good news for the Vols or the rest of the SEC.
Regardless of what anyone thinks of Pruitt as head coach, he possesses great defensive mind and was one of the top defensive coordinators in the nation during his stints at Florida State, Georgia and Alabama.
Cubelic, for example, noted Wednesday that he saw Pruitt yell out the other team’s plays before they executed them.
“I have said on record that Jeremy is one of the best in-game coaches on this side of football that I have seen,” Cubelic said. “I was calling games, I was on the sidelines Paul and I saw him shouting out the other team’s plays that they’re about to run. And it’s this game.”
We’ll see where that goes, but it sounds like Pruitt to Alabama is a real possibility.
Featured image via Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel via Imagn Content Services