Report: Jeremy Pruitt Expected to Interview Kendal Briles

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    Tennessee’s search for a new offensive coordinator has taken some twists and turns, and the latest involves a report that head coach Jeremy Pruitt will likely interview a very controversial coach.

    According to a report from 247Sports, Pruitt is expected to meet with Houston offensive coordinator Kendal Briles “in the next couple of days and possibly as early as tomorrow.”

    Briles has been an offensive coordinator since 2015, and he got his start coaching under his father at Baylor in 2008. He served as the Bears’ receivers coach, passing game coordinator, and recruiting coordinator in various years before being promoted to their offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2015. He was the offensive coordinator for Florida Atlantic in 2017 and is currently the offensive coordinator at Houston.

    His Baylor offense was the No. 1 scoring offense in the country in 2015, and he had Florida Atlantic ranked inside the top 10 nationally in both offensive yards per game and points scored per game in 2017. He’s done the same with Houston this year, as the Cougars rank fourth in points per game and sixth in yards per game.

    But there are some major off-field concerns with Briles as well.

    While Briles had success as a play-caller and quarterbacks coach at Baylor, he was tied to the massive scandal at Baylor that happened between 2011 and 2014. According a lawsuit filed in 2017, there were allegedly more than 50 instances of rape committed by 31 different football players from 2011 through 2014. Many of Baylor’s coaches were cited for creating a toxic culture around the football program in the allegations.

    According to the lawsuit, “The Baylor coaching staff used a ‘show ‘em a good time’ approach in recruiting, which allegedly included taking recruits to strip clubs, making girls in Baylor’s hostess program available for sex, and using drugs and alcohol.”

    While Kendal Briles was never directly implicated in the lawsuit, the lawsuit and other sex scandals cost his father, Art, his job as head coach at Baylor.

    Both Florida Atlantic and Houston felt as though Briles had a clear enough record to hire him on their respective staffs, but his ties to the Baylor scandal are still worth noting.

    As 247Sports notes, Briles also just signed a new extension with Houston that raised his annual salary and buyout. His new three-year extension is worth $2.1 million, and Briles would “owe 50 percent of his remaining base salary ($550,000 per year) for taking a play-calling offensive coordinator role at a Power 5 Conference program” before his contract runs out.

    The report also states that Alabama quarterbacks coach Dan Enos is also a top candidate for the Vols’ offensive coordinator position. Enos was hired as the Tide’s QBs coach prior to the 2018 season, and he was the offensive coordinator for Arkansas as well as the head coach at Central Michigan prior to coaching at Alabama.

    We will update as more news become available.

    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.