Jeremy Pruitt was hired as Tennessee’s head football coach on December 7th. But he’s been back at Alabama over the last week helping the Tide prepare for Clemson in the Sugar Bowl in the semifinal of the College Football Playoff.
Pruitt and Tennessee agreed that it was in Pruitt’s best interest to return to Alabama to help “finish what we started” there once the dead period in recruiting hit. And that’s just what Pruitt did.
But according to Pruitt, he’s had no trouble balancing the two jobs so far.
“The first thing when I went to Tennessee,” Pruitt said during a media availability prior to the semifinal, “the first thing I had to do was hire a staff. We kind of talked about that, and really the early signing period put a lot of pressure on the fact that you’ve got to get a staff in place and find a way to finish before that December 20th signing date.
“I think our guys have done a good job doing that, but once I came back (to Alabama), we’re working on Clemson.”
Pruitt is focusing on Alabama as a coach right now, but that doesn’t mean he is shirking his duties as Tennessee’s head coach. He’s been able to strike a balance between the two thus far.
“I’m working at Alabama,” Pruitt stated. “I was talking about it in the other day, we’re going to work football (during the day) and work on recruiting at night. Instead of recruiting for Alabama, I’m recruiting for Tennessee. So nothing’s changed from that standpoint. But my focus right now is really on these guys that are involved in this football game, and really I would like for us to talk about this football game.
“There will be plenty of time to talk about Tennessee later on.”
Although Pruitt seems to be comfortable splitting duties for now, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing at Alabama. Pruitt shared a story about a funny moment that happened during a staff meeting at Alabama when they were talking about recruiting. According to Pruitt, Alabama’s coaches are a little wary of him in the meeting room now.
“Yesterday we’re in a staff meeting,” Pruitt said, “and they’re starting to set up calls (for recruiting) for Coach Saban, and they’re going down the list. Tosh (Lupoi) is like, ‘We need to call this guy, this guy, this guy, this guy,’ and then he pauses, and he says, ‘Now we have a couple more that you need to call, Coach.’ And Coach Saban kind of looked at him, nobody said anything, and (Saban) goes, ‘Well, who?’ and Tosh just kind of paused. And I said, ‘Tosh, do you need me to leave the room?’ And everybody kind of got a kick out of it.”
But Pruitt views moments like that as a testament to Tennessee and the job he has with the Vols. Because according to Pruitt, the Vols should be recruiting the same caliber of athletes that Alabama and the other teams in the playoffs are recruiting.
“We all recruit the same guys,” Pruitt added. “We’re going to recruit the same guys that Florida State does, that LSU does, that Auburn does. The thing about it is the guys on these staffs, we’re all friends, and there’s not going to be any recruit that’s going to get in the way of our friendship.
“So if we’re not recruiting the same guys as Alabama and Florida State and Auburn and Georgia are recruiting, or Ohio State, then we’re probably recruiting the wrong guys.”
Alabama will play Clemson in the semifinal game of the College Football Playoff on Monday, January 1st at 8:45 PM Eastern. It will be the third time in three seasons that the two have faced off in the playoffs. The last two meetings were in the national title game.
You can watch the full media session with Pruitt below: