UPDATE 5:40 p.m. ET
Alabama coach Nick Saban said Pruitt would finish the season with the team.
Nick Saban on Jeremy Pruitt: He's going to finish the season with us.
— Aaron Suttles (@AaronSuttles) December 7, 2017
We’ll see if it goes better for Alabama than it did a year ago. Former offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin tried to juggle both jobs and left the team before the National Championship Game after coaching the Peach Bowl.
Tennessee’s coaching search has officially ended.
Thursday morning, the school confirmed Wednesday night reports that Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt would be the Volunteers’ new coach. Pruitt will be introduced Thursday evening.
“Six days ago, I mentioned several attributes that I sought to find in the next leader of our football program, and Coach Pruitt meets all criteria” Tennessee athletic director Phil Fulmer said in a statement. “I’m certain he appreciates the unique opportunity to lead a program of Tennessee’s caliber. He’s driven to win at the highest level. He will honor our university’s values, operate with integrity and be a role model for our student-athletes.
“I know Coach Pruitt will hit the ground running and go to work restoring our program to a championship level.”
Pruitt’s hire would come more than 10 days after Tennessee first thought it hired a coach in Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano. The school and Schiano agreed to a deal on Nov. 26 but Tennessee backed out after a ridiculous level of fan backlash against the deal.
After the Schiano deal fell apart, Tennessee’s coaching search ranged from Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, Duke’s David Cutcliffe, Purdue’s Jeff Brohm, NC State’s Dave Doeren and Washington State’s Mike Leach until athletic director John Currie was fired last week.
Friday, the school hired former football coach Fulmer to take Currie’s place as athletic director after Fulmer was reportedly attempting to exert influence on Currie’s coaching search. Less than a week after having the full-time job, Fulmer appears to have his coach. That is, unless Tennessee fans rage again and the administration backs out.
Pruitt replaced Georgia coach Kirby Smart as Alabama’s defensive coordinator in 2016. Before he came to Alabama, Pruitt was the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator under Mark Richt. He had that position for two seasons after serving as Florida State’s defensive coordinator during the Seminoles’ national championship season in 2013.
That BCS title was Pruitt’s first season as a defensive coordinator after spending three seasons at Alabama as the team’s secondary coach.
Pruitt is also the third coach hired in the SEC East over the last four offseasons that’s a former assistant of Saban’s at Alabama. Before Georgia hired Smart, Florida hired Jim McElwain before the 2015 season. McElwain was Alabama’s offensive coordinator from 2008-11.
Pruitt’s departure also means Alabama is spending a third-straight offseason looking for a coordinator. The team had to replace Smart before the 2016 season and hired Brian Daboll to replace Steve Sarkisian (who replaced Lane Kiffin) as the team’s offensive coordinator before the 2017 season.
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