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Firing Jeremy Pruitt Has Led to Success for College Football, NFL Teams Alike

Firing Jeremy Pruitt Has Led to Success for College Football, NFL Teams Alike
Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

Former Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt has made a lot of stops along the way in his 25+ year coaching career, both in the NFL and college football.

Pruitt has been a part of five National Championship-winning rosters, four times with Alabama and once with Florida State.

However, there has been alarming trend regarding Pruitt over the last nine years.

Pruitt has been fired and/or let go on three separate occasions since 2014, and the team that fired him has gone on to find subsequent success.

Media personality and former NFL linebacker Will Compton was the first to share the trend, tweeting his findings on Sunday night.

Pruitt worked for the Georgia Bulldogs as a defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach in 2014 and 2015 before going to Alabama to become their new defensive coordinator in 2017. While Pruitt’s departure from Georgia wasn’t a textbook “firing,” Pruitt reportedly wanted to stay on staff  after Georgia fired Mark Richt and hired new head coach Kirby Smart. But, Smart let Pruitt leave for Alabama, seemingly wanting his defense to be run differently.

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Smart’s defense has been nothing short of dominant in his seven years as head coach, and the Bulldogs won back-to-back National Championships in 2021 and 2022. Georgia and Smart could have three championships under their belt, but a heartbreaking 2nd and 26 conversion led to an Alabama win in the 2018 National Championship (2017 season).

Since Pruitt’s departure, Georgia has become the only team to consistently challenge Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide, and with back-to-back National Championships, a dynasty could be brewing in Athens.

Head coach at Tennessee was the next stop for Pruitt after two years as defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach at Alabama. Pruitt spent three years at Tennessee, posting a poor 16-19 record across that span. An early 2021 investigation found that Pruitt committed recruiting violations, and he was subsequently fired.

After Pruitt’s firing, Tennessee hired former UCF head coach Josh Heupel. Heupel and the Vols have gone 18-8 in the past two seasons, defeating Alabama, LSU, Florida and Clemson in the Capital One Orange Bowl in the process. Tennessee’s program has done a complete 180 since hiring Heupel, as Pruitt’s mere three wins in 2020 were the fewest for the program since 1924.

Pruitt then went to the NFL to serve as a defensive assistant for the New York Giants in 2021. The Giants were an abysmal 4-13, and New York did not retain Pruitt after the season.

Fast forward just one year later, the Giants are in the NFL Playoffs after a 9-7-1 season. To top it off, the Giants won their first playoff game since Super Bowl 46 on Sunday. The Giants are arguably the biggest surprise in the NFL this season, and first-year head coach Brian Daboll now has his team in the NFC’s final four.

There is a clear trend of when Pruitt has been fired or relieved from his duties over the past nine years, that team or program has gone on to smash expectations and become great. No one expected Tennessee to win 11 games this year or be the one-seed in the College Football Playoff’s first Top 25 of 2022. No one expected the Giants to win 9 games and make it to the Divisional Round of the playoffs. No one expected Georgia to be in the National Championship two years after staff turnover, and few expected the Bulldogs to win back-to-back National Championships this soon in Smart’s tenure.

Pruitt has been jobless since the Giants relieved him of his duties last year, but wherever he lands next, we’ll see if the trend continues if Pruitt gets fired.

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3 Responses

  1. No one here in Knoxville heard about all of this before Pruitt was hired here. We all had high hopes when he showed up but it didn’t take long to get tired of what he wasn’t doing and that was winning. We could see he kept starting with same QB who was sometimes hot but mostly cold. He’s a lot like Dooley with good papers but that’s it.

  2. And he won a national title at FSU and Bama while coaching. Nice sharticle

  3. Me myself I never seen him in a good coach or anything while he was at Tennessee Point Blank

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