Jeremy Pruitt almost made school history when he earned his first victory as head coach of the Vols this past Saturday. But he’ll have to settle for tying a school record instead of breaking one.
Tennessee’s 59-3 blowout victory over ETSU in Neyland Stadium gave Pruitt his first ever victory as a head coach and marked his first win at the helm of Tennessee’s football program. And that 56-point margin of victory tied the school record for the largest point margin in a coach’s first win with the Vols. The only other man to see his UT squad beat a team by that much in his first win with the program was Lane Kiffin back in 2009. Kiffin’s first (and only) Tennessee team opened up the 2009 season with a 63-7 win over Western Kentucky.
Though Pruitt didn’t win his first game as Tennessee’s head coach, his second one went much better for both him and the team. Pruitt became the first coach since Johnny Majors to lose his coaching debut with the Vols, and Majors’ first win also came in Week 2. Majors led the Vols to victory over Boston College in the second game of the 1977 season, winning 24-18.
Pruitt also became only the third coach in school history to have his team score 50 or more points in his first win. Kiffin also did it, and Derek Dooley saw his first win come via a 50-0 victory over UT-Martin in 2010. Phillip Fulmer’s first win as acting head coach of the Vols was in 1992 when he filled in for Johnny Majors, and the Vols defeated Southwest Louisiana (now the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns) 38-3. His first game in 1993 as full-time head coach was a 50-0 win over Louisiana Tech, but that wasn’t officially his first win as UT’s head coach.
The Vols cruised past ETSU on Saturday thanks to touchdowns on offense, defense, and special teams. Pruitt and his staff will look to earn win No. 2 this upcoming Saturday when Tennessee hosts UTEP for a noon kickoff.
Here’s a list of every Tennessee head coach’s first victory dating back to General Robert Neyland:
- Jeremy Pruitt, 2018 — 59-3 vs. ETSU
- Butch Jones, 2013 — 45-0 vs. Austin Peay
- Derek Dooley, 2010 — 50-0 vs. UT-Martin
- Lane Kiffin, 2009 — 63-7 vs. Western Kentucky
- Phillip Fulmer, 1992 — 38-3 vs. SW Louisiana
- Johnny Majors, 1977 — 24-18 vs. Boston College
- Bill Battle, 1970 — 28-3 vs. SMU
- Doug Dickey, 1967 — 10-6 vs. Chattanooga
- Jim McDonald, 1963 — 34-6 vs. Richmond
- Bowden Wyatt, 1955 — 13-0 vs. Chattanooga
- Harvey Robinson, 1953 — 40-7 vs. Chattanooga
- W.H. Britton, 1935 — 20-0 vs. Southwestern
- Robert Neyland, 1926 — 13-0 vs. Carson-Newman