Following Tennessee's latest implosion, Paul Finebaum weighs in on Jeremy Pruitt's future
Tennessee has been in a downward spiral for several weeks as the Vols have lost five straight games by double digits, most recently against Auburn on Saturday, 30-17.
SEC Network host Paul Finebaum weighed in on the state of the Vols, and where the program is headed the rest of the season and beyond. Finebaum shared his thoughts on his regular appearance on “The Roundtable” on WJOX 94.5 in Birmingham, Alabama.
Finebaum was asked which fan base has more reason to be concerned, Penn State or Tennessee.
“I think it’s Tennessee for this reason. As terrible as the season has gone for James Franklin, and the collection of calls that he has made that have backfired, he has at least shown that he’s capable of winning in big-time college football. Jeremy Pruitt can’t make that claim,” Finebaum said. “I think there’s at least a little bit in the pocket of Penn State fans but Tennessee fans have to be in an absolute state of bewilderment right now because two months ago the season was under way they had won a game or two, I think they got as high as the top 10 or somewhere near the top 10 and there was genuine enthusiasm and optimism going to Athens and since then, this has been a free fall with five straight losses, double digits and still Florida and Texas A&M remaining. I don’t know where you go to Tennessee to try to find a security blanket.”
Finebaum and the WJOX co-hosts then discussed Pruitt’s post-game press conference on Saturday when he was asked about the direction of the program, and he deflected his answer. Then he was asked about the offense, and said that Tennessee had more yards than Auburn.
“For all the things that Jeremy Pruitt has done well at Tennessee, and I’ll have to get back to you on what those are, his public relations has been abysmal, and that’s from the beginning,” Finebaum said. “I know people up in Tennessee who have offered to help him and counsel him and give him opportunities and I’ve been on the set with him in Knoxville and asked him just an underhanded layup on Phil Fulmer and he couldn’t even answer that correctly. He is still a high school football coach when it comes to public relations and I know that sounds like an insult to the great high school football coaches out there who are great communicators. What I mean by that is he will not communicate in an appropriate way, he doesn’t understand that the fan base until recently was rooting for him and wants him to succeed, and his press conferences are usually a disaster as a result, going back to the Alabama game, this game, countless other times.
Finally, the co-hosts asked Finebaum if Pruitt had the support of Athletics Director Phil Fulmer.
“Back to Fulmer, I suppose Fulmer is supporting him because he has to,” Finebaum said. “Phil Fulmer has dug in and this was his guy and we all remember the circumstances a couple years ago with (Greg) Schiano and then Fulmer took over and then (Mike) Leach was passed on and then it was ultimately going to be Jeremy Pruitt. He also gave him the extension, the administration at Tennessee has done everything to support Jeremy Pruitt and I mean everything. They’ve gotten in line, they stood up for him, they gave him the extension, they rallied around him, and what are they going to do now as we head into the offseason, I have no earthly idea.”