Tennessee has a new head coach for the fourth time since firing Phillip Fulmer in 2008. The path UT took to get their most recent head coach was one of the most convoluted and controversial paths ever taken, however.
But Tennessee finally has their man, and Jeremy Pruitt has already gone through his first spring as the Vols’ head coach. And it was his first ever spring as a head coach himself, as the Vols’ new leader on the sideline is heading into his first ever season as a head coach at the collegiate level.
Pruitt is just one of several coaches at new schools in the SEC, but he’s the only first-time head coach in the conference this season. And because of that, very little is known about him, and that’s reflected in the national media’s perception of him heading into the 2018 season.
CBS Sports recently released their head coaching rankings for every Power Five head coach. The panel of analysts ranked all 65 Power Five head coaches individually, then the results were averaged out into the final rankings.
And according to their opinions, Pruitt hasn’t earned any benefit of the doubt from them yet.
Tennessee’s new head coach came in at No. 57 on CBS Sports’ rankings, and they offered very little in the way of analysis on him.
“We had Butch Jones ranked 52nd in these rankings last season. His replacement begins at 57th. Must be the Saban Shine,” was all the justification provided.
Pruitt is ranked ahead of only two other SEC coaches. He’s right ahead of Mississippi State’s Joe Moorehead (58th) and ranks ahead of Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke (62nd). LSU’s Ed Orgeron ranks just ahead of Pruitt, coming in at No. 56 on the list.
The other SEC head coached are ranked as follows:
52. Chad Morris, Arkansas
50. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt
46. Mark Stoops, Kentucky
37. Will Muschamp, South Carolina
14. Gus Malzahn, Auburn
13. Dan Mullen, Florida
8. Kirby Smart, Georgia
4. Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M
1. Nick Saban, Alabama
According to their rankings, the Vols will face seven of the top 50 Power Five head coaches in the country this season in just the SEC alone. West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen came in at No. 35 on their list.
Pruitt is easily the most inexperienced head coach in the SEC, and that’s likely the reason he’s ranked where he is. It’s much less a knock against his coaching ability more about his lack of experience and production as a head coach since he has none.
If the Vols surprise teams this season and post a better than anticipated record, though, expect to see him rise in those rankings.