Randy Smith: Finally, Vols Hire A Coach

Thursday, December 7, 2017 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
On Wednesday night, word began to spread throughout Big Orange Country that Tennessee had finally made an offer to a new head football coach. That  offer was accepted by Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and after three and a half weeks since Butch Jones was fired the Volunteers had their man. The entire process wasn't quite that simple. It took national embarrassment, being turned down numerous times by coaches all over the country and the dismissal of an athletic director to get the job done.
That process came under fire from NCAA President Mark Emmert who spoke of the collapse of communication between U.T. administrators and athletic department personnel. The man spoke the truth.

Former head football coach Phillip Fulmer came to the rescue and hired a coach in five days; the way it was supposed to be done. Jeremy Pruitt is a good quality hire for the Vols, though he may not be the "sexy" hire some Tennessee fans wanted. Pruitt has guided the Crimson Tide defense for two seasons since Kirby Smart left for Georgia. He has a reputation for helping to develop players who are extremely physical and very well disciplined. All you have to do is look at Alabama and see the results.

Pruitt is well respected in the coaching community. He is an outstanding recruiter and a tireless worker. He's the guy that impressed Coach Fulmer more than any other and my advice to Tennessee fans who wanted Jon Gruden or Mike Leach , is to get behind Coach Pruitt and support him 100%. 

Tennessee is allowing Pruitt to stay on at Alabama and coach the team's defense in the College Football Playoffs on January 1st, though he will be pulling double duty as he puts together a staff and heads recruiting efforts for the Vols.  That recruiting effort has been a hot topic for several weeks as the Vols have dropped from a top five class for 2018, to somewhere in the mid thirties. They have had a bunch of decommitments and now that they had head coach in place there is a possibility they could return a few of them into the fold. Only time will tell.

This is not going to be a quick fix for the Vols. There is some talent in Knoxville but it's going to take a couple of years before Tennessee can be expected to compete for an SEC East title. There is also the "toxicity" within the athletic department to deal with. Fulmer now can settle into the day-to-day running of the athletic department, but his staff is currently filled with John Currie's people. It remains to be seen how loyal they will be to Coach Fulmer or how long they will stay in their current positions. 

This process, the one that caused such embarrassment and discord within Tennessee's athletic structure will also prove to be quite costly. They could owe Greg Schiano a great deal of money after that hiring fiasco almost two weeks ago. They also owe former coach Butch Jones and his staff a big buyout, and they will likely owe John Currie money as well. 

Things are not good in Big Orange Country. They are a bit better this morning as new head coach Jeremy Pruitt will be introduced later today , but there is still much work to be done. To quote legendary former coach Johnny Majors, "We're one foot away from hell. But we're headed in the right direction." 

* * *

Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer.  His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for 30 years. He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga television for more than a quarter-century. In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith. They have five grandchildren, Coleman, Boone, Mattingly, DellaMae, and CoraLee.




Hixson's Wayne Hixson Is Presented ARCA's Marcum Award In Indianapolis

The Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) has presented its Marcum Award to Wayne Hixson, of Hixson, Tn. The presentation was made at an awards banquet in Indianapolis. Mr. Hixson, 70, is a long-time racing team owner. ARCA President Ron Drager said of the recipient, "He is an ARCA team owner who first raced with us in 1988. Since then, his race team, sometimes ... (click for more)

Randy Smith: Sports' Winners And Losers For 2017

The new modern term for winners and losers is now, "trending up and trending down". That's fine but I prefer to continue to use "Winners and Losers." After all, old habits are hard to break. Here is a list of some of the real winners and losers in sports for the past year. Winner: New Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer. His handling of the hiring of Jeremy Pruitt ... (click for more)

Home In Alton Park Damaged By Fire Friday Morning

No injuries were reported in connection with a house fire in Alton Park Friday morning. The Chattanooga Fire Department received the alarm around  8:30 a.m.  and responded to 4020 Highland Ave. with five fire companies. When the first firefighters arrived on the scene, one of the residents of the house was concerned this his wife might still be inside. The firefighters ... (click for more)

Pedestrian Struck And Severely Injured In East Ridge Thursday Night

The East Ridge Police Department is investigating a motor vehicle collision involving a pedestrian being struck  at 5300 Ringgold Road on Thursday around  10 p.m. Officers arrived and found that East Ridge resident Dale Henderson had been struck by a vehicle and was suffering from severe injuries. It appears he attempted to cross Ringgold Road in front ... (click for more)

Technology: The Virtual Drug

The truth is you're probably reading this on a mobile device or your computer. As a matter of fact, I’m typing this down on a MacBook Pro. The point is technology is everywhere. It engulfs like a tsunami engulfs a village, only a few ever escape. In fact, it took me two hours to start this paper because I was so hypnotized by phone, checking my Instagram and seeing what the next ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Lesbian’s Daddy

I’ve always held the belief that things work out for the best. Oh, I’ve been in some tights where I couldn’t see the forest for the trees but, in the up-and-down life I have lived, I’ve found that God doesn’t make mistakes. If I’ll just hold on long enough, no matter how bad the circumstances, something good will happen. It always does. One of the best examples I have seen lately ... (click for more)