(This is part of a series of reports in which coaches who are promised anonymity for their responses give their assessments of Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt and the state of UT’s football program)
Hiring a former coach as athletic director may not be popular nowadays, but it was the right thing for Tennessee to do, according to an unnamed SEC coach.
“I think hiring Phillip (Fulmer) was a good move,” said a coach who spent part of his coaching career at UT.
Why was hiring Phillip Fulmer a good move? UT’s athletic department needed to come together.
“I just saw the whole University of Tennessee system as a fractured group,” the coach said.
The coach said Fulmer can help UT unify its athletic department much like Mal Moore was able to do at Alabama as athletic director in the mid-2000’s.
“I think Phillip in that role will help them,” the coach said.
Fulmer, however, won’t likely be as much of a benefit in recruiting, according to another former UT coach, but that’s no indictment of one of the all-time best recruiters in SEC history. Since coaching in 2008, things have changed. Fulmer, the unnamed coach said, was great at building relationships. Now, recruiting is more about social media.
Fulmer had an active role in recruiting while Pruitt was building his staff shortly after being hired. Fulmer even traveled with Pruitt to visit with prospects and their families.
Recruiting will be key for the Vols moving forward under Pruitt. Despite being regarded as a great recruiter, one SEC coach said he didn’t believe former UT coach Butch Jones had actually recruited as well as advertised.
“I don’t think they’ve recruited that well,” the coach said. “I think they’ve had some guys they recruited and pumped them up. That’s a cardinal sin.”
One coach said Pruitt and his staff need to do a better job of evaluating players than Jones and his staff did during their tenure.
“Is he (a prospect) going to help you beat Alabama?” Pruitt said. “That’s the key. Georgia is getting that right now.”
With the state of Tennessee’s low recruiting base, securing prospects from Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas will be key. Pruitt should have the resources to do that.
“Beating teams in their backyard,” the coach said when asked what’s the key to Pruitt’s success. “You can’t be afraid to swing that stick when you’ve got those facilities.”