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Posted: Thursday, December 7th, 2017, 11:49 PM
by Beano
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WHOíS OUR NEXTUN, JIMMY SECTION? As the all-important search for the next football coach for our beloved Vols progresses I will peg this segment in the leadoff spot until its conclusion. I have no insight or insiders so it will be dedicated purely to my emotional state as the process transpires.

LETíS DO IT WITH PRUITT: Tennesseeís eventual list to replace Butch Jones was underwhelming to say the least. When it became clear however that the finalists were Jeremy Pruitt, Les Miles, Kevin Steele, Brent Venables and Mel Tucker, Pruitt was my clear choice. I favored him over Miles and Steele due to their advanced age and the fact that despite their obvious experience they were not being sought after by other schools. He edged Venables due to his SEC seasoning and nudged Tucker because Melís only college DC experience was the last two seasons at Georgia.

CANíT AND WONíT TRY TO SELL IT: I can see potential for Pruitt to have the positive effect on Tennesseeís program as Kirby Smart has done at Georgia. He is an energetic, driven recruiter and has been a coordinator with three highly-successful programs. He is a cultural fit that understands exactly what it takes to win big in Power-5 football and the fan fervor that comes with it. He is well respected among his peers and has the potential to assemble an all-star staff. I will not however insult your intelligence by suggesting that Pruitt ever gets this job if not at the tail-end of the worst coaching search in the history of sports. Tennessee fans expect and deserve the best for a storied program whoís only real impediment is a dysfunctional administration that doesnít view the job with the esteem it deserves. You need look no further than last week when Tennessee fans proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they value the program much greater than those charged with leading it. Iím excited for the Pruitt era can pull for his teams and get behind his efforts to right our ship but I wonít portend to sell you on it. Thatís something Jeremy and his staff will have to accomplish on their own

I have great appreciation for Tee Martin and what he did here during his playing career. I also applaud his doggedness as a coach that has taken him from Morehouse College to the high school fields of Atlanta to New Mexico, Kentucky and his current spot as OC at USC. I also understand former Vol players driven desire to see him as at least a part of the staff at the school they all toiled to make great that has deteriorated before their eyes. I would have been fine if Tee had been provided the opportunity to be Pruittís OC. I just wasnít an advocate for Martin as Tennesseeís Head Coach nor as itís coach-in-waiting. I donít think two years as an offensive coordinator outside the SEC where itís unclear if heís ever been given free-rein is preparation enough for a job of this magnitude. I also donít believe you should ever be promised a job prior to proving it should be yours. Tee should have been shown more respect by all involved in the search. Hopefully he gets an opportunity to return -if he desires to do so- and prove worthy of running his own program someday be it here or elsewhere.

Iíve admittedly had little good to say about Coach Fulmer since 2005 when it appeared to me he had put his career on auto-pilot and was comfortable if not down-right complacent. I wasnít even sure if battles to temporarily wrestle power out of the iron-clad grip of the HOH was worth the fight when Fulmer was named AD. Itís time however to give credit where it is due. Once Phillip took over the search it immediately had the essential structure missing under John Currie culminating in the hire of a much better prospect than you would expect at the end of the worst manhunt in history. He also refused to take the easy route of hiring Kevin Steele with Tee as the Head Coach in Waiting which would have curried the most favor with former players and many constituents. Instead he made a hard decision to reach outside the family. I personally believe it was the right decision for the long-term health of the program. I commend Coach Fulmer for the early results of his AD tenure. His actions to-date make me feel he has my best interests as a Tennessee fan at heart. Itís been a long time since I felt that way.

PRUITT PRESSER: Iím not sure what I expected from Jeremy Pruittís introductory press conference but it certainly wasnít to be blown away and convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that Iím going to like this guy. Heís not polished but who cares when what he is as genuine as anyone weíve ever marched to the podium. Heís obviously a driven, non-nonsense guy that although extremely serious about his craft somehow doesnít give the impression he is about himself. He just basically starting coaching Tennessee football the minute he walked in the room and had a bunch of zero-star recruits ready to play special teams if thatís what he needed on Day-1 of his tenure. I was hopeful we had hired a football coach; after one day on the job Iím certain weíve hired nothing but.

FINAL FRIDAY THOUGHT: Iím eternally grateful to Vol Nation for their actions of the last 12 days. Your undying devotion to -and belief in- the program transported this old Vol fan from the edge of despair -when both Greg Schiano and Dave Doeren appeared to be sure hires- to all-in again for Coach Pruitt and the Big Orange. Thanks, from the bottom of my heart.

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