Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt made some strong comments on Saturday after the Orange & White Game. And he didn’t back down from them a day later.
After the Vols’ annual spring game, Pruitt stated that some of the players on his team “flat out quit” and said those players would be “just watching” games this fall if they didn’t change. Then he was asked about Tennessee’s fans showing up for the game, and he some comments that didn’t sit well with some Vol fans.
“I thought the Vol Walk was spectacular,” Pruitt said Saturday. “I don’t know how many fans we had (in attendance). To me, it’s kind of like our football team. The ones that were here, I’m proud they were here. They’re fired up and ready to get going. Then there were people who weren’t here who had legitimate reasons they couldn’t be here.
“Then there were some people who weren’t here that, why weren’t they here? It’s kind of like our football team. I think we all need to look in the mirror and see who we want to be.”
Pruitt’s comments drew both criticism and admiration from Vol fans. Some thought his comments were too harsh for a fan base that still had over 65,000 show up as the announced crowd at Neyland Stadium on Saturday. Others thought his statement was a breath of fresh air after half a decade of Butchisms and cliches from the previous administration.
But regardless of how his comments came across, Pruitt isn’t backing down from what he said.
According to Chris Low of ESPN, Pruitt isn’t walking back his statements from Saturday, saying that becoming the best needs to be done through actions and not just words.
“We want to be the best,” Pruitt told Low. “If we’re going to be the best, we can’t talk about it. We gotta try to do it in everything we do.”
The announced crowd of 65,098 at Neyland Stadium for Saturday’s spring game marks the fourth-largest attendance for the Orange & White Game since UT started the event in 1961. The 1986 spring game had 73,801 in attendance, and Butch Jones’s teams drew in the top two and three in attendance. The 2014 game saw 68,548 show up to Neyland Stadium, and the 2016 game had 67,027 in attendance. Last year’s Orange & White Game was canceled at halftime because of inclement weather, and no official attendance was announced.