Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt just claimed another national title as an assistant coach as Alabama stormed back and defeated Georgia 26-23 in overtime in last night’s championship game. He now has five national titles to his credit as an assistant coach, and he has several more conference and division titles as well.
But he’s not the only one on Tennessee’s staff who has a multitude of rings in their past.
Pruitt still hasn’t hired his wide receivers coach yet, and technically none of his hires have been officially confirmed by the University of Tennessee. But of the eight on-field coaches that Pruitt has reportedly added to his staff, half of them have won at least one national title as an assistant coach.
And when you throw Pruitt into the mix, five of the nine Tennessee coaches have national titles to their credit.
Pruitt has the most with five during his stays at Alabama and Florida State. Chris Rumph, who is projected to be the Vols’ linebackers coach, has two national titles during his time as an assistant, and Kevin Sherrer (defensive coordinator), Tracy Rocker (defensive line), and Charles Kelly (special teams) all have one national championship to their credit.
That means that even with the staff still incomplete, the Vols’ new coaching staff has 10 national championships on their resumes that they’re bringing to Knoxville. And those coaches bring even more conference and division titles as well.
Pruitt and his staff have won 14 Power Five conference titles over the years. Pruitt has three SEC titles and an ACC championship himself. Charles Kelly has three ACC titles, Sherrer has two SEC titles, Rumph has two SEC titles, Rocker has an SEC championship, Tyson Helton (offensive coordinator) has a Pac-12 title, and Robert Gillespie (running backs) has a Big East title (technically before Power Five existed, but they were still an “Automatic Qualifying” conference in the BCS).
Tennessee hasn’t won an SEC title since 1998, the same season they won their last national title. They also haven’t won an SEC division title since 2007. But Pruitt and his staff have a multitude of those titles as well.
Counting Pruitt, Tennessee’s new coaching staff has 22 division titles as coaches. So all in all, Pruitt and his staff are bringing 10 national titles, 14 conference championships, and 22 division crowns to Knoxville this upcoming season. And that doesn’t include titles won by some of these coaches when they were players.
When you compare that to the first staff that Butch Jones brought in, there’s no comparison.
Butch Jones had two Big East championships to his name at Cincinatti, and Gillespie also had a Big East title. Mike Bajakian helped win both of Jones’ Big East titles. John Jancek had both those Big East titles as well, and he helped win an SEC title with Georgia. Steve Stripling also helped win the titles at Cincinnati, as did Mark Elder and Don Mahoney.
Willie Martinez had two SEC titles and three division titles with the Bulldogs, and Zach Azzanni won a Big 12 title.
Tommy Thigpen was the only coach on Butch Jones’ first staff with a national title. He helped Auburn win one in 2010, and he had an SEC title and SEC East crown to his name as well from that season.
Success at previous schools doesn’t always translate to success at a new school. But one thing is for certain: Jeremy Pruitt and his staff are bringing a championship pedigree to Tennessee, and they’ve proven they know how to get the job done as assistants.
Now Pruitt has to prove he can win at a high level as a head coach.