KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer says there will be no shortcuts in fixing the football program.
Fulmer, 152-52 as the Vols head coach from 1992-2008, knows precisely where new coach Jeremy Pruitt need to start when spring drills open on March 20.
“ It’s about recruiting the right kind of kids and it’s about everybody supporting them and developing them and giving them a chance to compete at the highest level and being fundamentally good,” Fulmer said on The SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum Shown on Wednesday.
“We haven’t been a very fundamentally good football team in probably 9 or 10 years, (so) hopefully we can get back to that,” the first ballot College Football Hall of Famer said. “Those are the recipes, there’s no magic dust to sprinkle on it and make everything fine. There’s a lot of work in front of us.”
Fulmer is confident as ever in Pruitt, who has been a part of championship level coaching staffs at Alabama, Florida State and Georgia.
“ He’s exactly what we needed — he’s a no-nonsense guy, he’s a ball coach,” Fulmer said. “He’s the coach that you loved and you feared at the same time because you wanted his respect …”
Paul “Bear” Bryant tie-in
Fulmer’s description of Pruitt could easily be applied to former Alabama College Football Hall of Fame coach Gene Stallings, a protege of the great Paul “Bear” Bryant.
Pruitt played for Stallings in 1995 and 1996 before joining the Alabama coaching staff as a graduate assistant in 1997.
Johnny Majors influence
Pruitt’s coaching background also resembles Fulmer’s, in many respects.
“Everything a head coach needs to have done as an assistant coach, he’d done it starting at the very bottom,” Fulmer said. “I reflect on my time before I was a head coach, Coach (Johnny) Majors gave me a lot of responsibility all the way up to being a coordinator and assistant head coach, so I prepared myself for that moment, and (Pruitt) was definitely prepared.”
Fulmer said he talked with several people around the SEC about Pruitt during the coaching search in December, including Nick Saban.
“I included a lot of people in the search …. people out there in the conference that have had great success, a nd I think they were excited to talk to me as well because I knew the history of our league and had played in it and had kinda earned my stripes,” Fulmer said, “so they were very honest with me about the candidates we were talking to.
“ I think we came down in the right place and got the right guy.”
SEC Country exclusive stories on Jeremy Pruitt from College Football Playoff in New Orleans and Atlanta:
- Jeremy Pruitt delivers title to Alabama, exits with Vols on his mind
- Alabama legend predicts success for Jeremy Pruitt, return to Tuscaloosa
- New Tennessee coach ready to ‘finish this thing off’ at Alabama
- Jeremy Pruitt reveals distinctive features of defensive blueprint
- Tim Tebow says Jeremy Pruitt marches to beat of his own drum
- WATCH: Alabama players say there’s more to Jeremy Pruitt than Xs and Os
- WATCH: Pruitt shares Tennessee early signing class strategy
- WATCH: Alabama star defensive lineman says Pruitt pushes right buttons
- WATCH: Clemson coordinators reveal Pruitt defensive characteristics
- WATCH: Pruitt’s Tennessee talk limited, but meaningful
- WATCH: Super Bowl assistant, Tide OC has high praise for Jeremy Pruitt
- WATCH: Can Pruitt’s defense finally slow down Clemson?
- Pruitt’s reasons for coaching Alabama go beyond title chase
- WATCH: Nick Saban shares rise of Tennessee coach Pruitt
- PODCAST: Jeremy Pruitt’s understated nature is unmistakable
- WATCH: Jeremy Pruitt: No interest in talking about dominant defense
- Jeremy Pruitt’s defense smothered Clemson, keyed Alabama win
- Alabama stock report shows Jeremy Pruitt rising after Sugar Bowl win
- Tennessee a sleeping giant with Jeremy Pruitt as coach
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