Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt appears to be doing his due diligence with his search for a new offensive coordinator.
Jeremy Pruitt reportedly met with former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze on Thursday to discuss Tennessee’s vacant offensive coordinator position and to talk about football. Now, Pruitt has reportedly interviewed another candidate and is set to talk with another.
According to long-time Knoxville media member John Brice, Pruitt has interviewed Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey and is expected to talk with NC State offensive coordinator Eli Drinkwitz as well.
#Vols coach Jeremy Pruitt interviewed Auburn OC Chip Lindsey on Thursday. Has been using help of John Lilly in interviews as well. Leaderboard remains Freeze and Lindsey. Drinkwitz expected to chat w/ Pruitt as well. Ideal timeline is 24-48 hours
— John Brice (@JohnDBrice1) November 30, 2018
As Brice points out, Tennessee assistant coach John Lilly has been helping Pruitt throughout the search process as well. Lilly serves as the “assistant to the head coach” on Tennessee’s staff, and he’s been a tight ends coach both in the NFL and in the SEC. He has over 20 years of experience in the coaching profession.
Lindsey has been Auburn’s offensive coordinator the past two seasons. Before that, he served as the play-caller for Arizona State in 2016, and he was the offensive coordinator at Southern Miss from 2014-15. Lindsey was also the offensive coordinator at Hoover High School in 2007, the same high school Pruitt coached at from 2004-06. The two never coached with each other there, but they still have ties to the same school.
Drinkwitz has been the OC at NC State since 2016, and he was the offensive coordinator at Boise State in 2015 before joining the Wolfpack. He was also the co-offensive coordinator at Arkansas State in 2013. Pruitt and Drinkwitz have never worked with each other.
According to Brice, the two front-runners for the Vols’ OC job are Hugh Freeze and Chip Lindsey. And considering those are the two coaches Pruitt interviewed first, that would definitely appear to be the case.
Freeze was the head coach at Ole Miss from 2012-16 and was the head coach at Arkansas State for a year in 2011 before taking the Ole Miss job. He’s also been an OC at Arkansas State and a head coach at Lambuth.
There is, of course, the off-field issues with Freeze that stem from “impermissible benefits” extended to recruits and contact with a “female escort” on a university-issued phone while he was the head coach at Ole Miss. But it was reported Thursday that the SEC is expected to clear Freeze should he be offered a job in the conference.
Brice reports that a decision would likely be made in the next 24-48 hours on Tennessee’s offensive coordinator position.
We will update as new information comes out.