Here's the case for keeping Jeremy Pruitt as Tennessee football coach
He has a 15-17 career record. Tennessee's losing streak is its longest since the Vols started the 1988 season 0-6. Tennessee has showed no signs of developing a quarterback under Pruitt's watch.
But there also are reasons to stick with Pruitt in 2021.
For starters, of course, is the cost of firing Pruitt in a year in which the athletic department is braced for a $40 million loss in revenue. He'd be owed a buyout of $12.88 million if he were fired on, say, Dec. 1. Sticking with that Dec. 1 date, a total staff overhaul would cost Tennessee about $19.2 million in severance, before any possible mitigation of damages by fired staffers gaining new employment. (Unlike his staff, Pruitt would be entitled to his full buyout even if he finds new work, because he is under no obligation to mitigate the damages.)
And arguments exist for keeping Pruitt beyond buyout money.
Adams, for instance, says Tennessee could decide to opt for continuity and bank on consistency in leadership being a better long-term play than starting over with a new coach. He also says that Pruitt & Co. could make the case that coaches shouldn't be judged as harshly in a pandemic season.
Toppmeyer isn't sold on that way of thinking, but he says that recruiting could be an argument in Pruitt's favor.
Tennessee's 2021 recruiting class is ranked 11th in the 247Sports Composite. Although that ranking might slide a bit between now and the early signing period, which begins Dec. 16, making a coaching change now could further damage the class.
Toppmeyer notes that the best argument for whether to keep Pruitt – or fire him – could be how Tennessee looks during its final games of the season. Do the Vols finish on an upswing or go out with a whimper?
Blake Toppmeyer covers University of Tennessee football. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @btoppmeyer. If you enjoy Blake’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it. Current subscribers can click here to join Blake's subscriber-only text group offering updates and analysis on Vols football.