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Jeremy Pruitt’s problems show how well Kirby Smart is doing in Georgia soccer
Three seasons later, Jeremy Pruitt is no longer the Tennessee coach. The school fired him, for some reason, with several other employees on Monday over an investigation into their recruitment practices.
When Pruitt was hired during the 2017 round, there was an idea That Tennessee was trying to do what Georgia Done with Kirby Smart. Pruitt was a successful Defense Coordinator for Crimson Tide, just like Smart. Pruitt was also seen as an excellent recruiter.
Both are designated to run major SEC programs as their first major coaching positions. Smart actually succeeded when Pruitt was appointed, leading Georgia to the SEC title in its second season. He kept driving the Bulldogs all the way to the National Championship match, before falling short of Pruitt and Alabama.
Georgia won the 2017 season by relying on running and defense. She was rolling onto the recruitment front, as Bulldogs fell into Class # 3 in 2017 and Category 1 in the 2018 conscription cycle. Sounds like a good idea to try to regain some glory for Tennessee.
But since Pruitt took the reins, he has failed to lead Tennessee to the same level of success as Georgia. With the exception of a streak of six wins to end his second season, many of the problems that plagued Pruitt early in his coaching tenure had done so all the time.
In Pruitt’s three seasons, Tennessee went 16-19. In matches against Georgia, Florida and Alabama, the largest of Tennessee’s table matches each season, it went 0-6. All these losses were in double digits. This is not what you want.
In addition to Tennessee’s corporate shortcomings, there are two obvious reasons Pruitt couldn’t live up to the same standard smart-kit. For example, SMART got into a much better program than Pruitt did with volunteers. Tennessee had only won four games before Pruitt arrived. Georgia won 10.
Pruitt has never set a remote close to the same level as Smart had. Smart’s first three complete seasons – 2017, 2018 and 2019 – took third and first and second places in the 247Sports Composite Rankings. Pruitt ranked 13th in 2019, 10th in 2020, and remained 15th in 2021 before he was fired.
That’s a big gap between what Smart should be working with and what Pruitt did in terms of building a program.
Pruitt also did not have a center stabilizer. Jarrett Guarantono has always been around, but he only started every game for Tennessee in 2018, which is Pruitt’s first season. Even as the volunteers seemed to have landed in the center-midfield in the future in 2020 at Harrison Bailey, he struggled to find consistent playtime last season.
Compare that to what Smart did in Georgia. Jacob Eason started all but one in 2016. When Eason was injured at the start of the 2017 season, Smart turned to Jake Fromm. He started every match for Georgia over the next three seasons, even with talented options like Eason and Justin Fields.
Smart’s got consistent play from mid-back, even if he’s not always great. Pruitt brought in the offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, from Georgia no less, and yet the musical chairs continued in the middle.
Despite all of Pruitt’s successes as a defense coordinator, his defenses in Tennessee couldn’t replicate what Smart did in Georgia. Volunteers finished in the top 25 yards per permitted game only once in Pruitt’s three seasons. Last year, volunteers fell back to 76th nationwide in that case. Pruitt’s tactics were not good enough to overcome the talent contradiction he faced in Tennessee.
Smart also wasn’t blowing in the same way Pruitt did. In Smart’s first five seasons as coach of Georgia, he suffered seven double-digit losses. Pruitt had seven in 2020 alone, to match the nine he picked in his first two years in office.
Smart wasn’t perfect at the Georgia job, because he’s also 0-3 against Alabama and Nick Saban. Smart Crime has struggled to keep up with some of the sport’s other elite programs. But he showed at least some resilience by bringing in Todd Moncken before the 2020 season. There’s also the whole Fields story, although it’s another day’s story.
If there’s one stark difference to Pruitt and Smart’s pre-training days, it’s the way the ex-coaching spells in Georgia to end the 2015 season. While Pruitt has vastly improved Georgia’s defense in the last two years under Mark Richt, he has created a number of problems. behind the scenes. So much so, that he wasn’t a candidate to join the Smart Staff when he eventually replaced Richt.
Smart didn’t deal with this level of drama in his time in Alabama. Perhaps he should have said that.
Tennessee will now have to appoint its fifth president since the volunteers last won the SEC East race in 2007. Georgia won the division five times during the same period, with Smart picking the last three.
As frustrating as parts of Smart’s time like Georgia’s major training era, one has only to look at the smoldering chaos of the Tennessee program at the moment to see just how much worse things could be.
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