Now that Tennessee has finally found its offensive coordinator, Jeremy Pruitt is confident he has the Southeastern Conference’s best offensive mind on staff in Knoxville following the hire of Jim Chaney.
Pruitt relayed that much and more during a lengthy radio interview regarding Chaney’s hiring with Jimmy Hyams of Knoxville-based WNML program “Sports Talk.” The WNML interview with Pruitt can be found here if you want to listen to it on demand.
Here is a transcript of everything Pruitt had to say during the interview:
On the hire of Chaney:
“Jim does a fantastic job, he has experience in this league. I think he’s one of the best offensive coordinators in the country and he’s done it a bunch of different ways. If you look at his history by throwing it nearly every single play, he’s done it by running a lot, he’s done it with balance. He has a system but one of the unique things he does is he finds out who the playmakers are on his football team and finds a way to get them the ball. He has familiarity with this league, which I think is important. I think this is one of the best defensive leagues in all of college football. A lot of really good defensive coaches in this league and you have to find ways to be creative and I think Jim has done a fantastic job of doing that.”
On Chaney’s offensive flexibility:
“I think it’s important that you can be creative in college football. You have an opportunity when you hire a staff, you didn’t always recruit all the guys and you have to figure out who the playmakers are and you have to find ways to be multiple in the ways you do that. He’s been able to adapt, he’s a very smart guy and he’s found different ways to find success in this league.”
How tough is it to gameplan against Chaney’s offense?
“Well, back to when he was at Tennessee before and I was at Alabama, he was a guy that present problems. He understands both sides of the ball. He’s not playing checkers he’s playing chess. He finds ways to create matchups with personnel and who your best players are trying to get them on the right person on the other side. He does a really good job of doing that.”
How did you lure a guy from a successful Georgia program to come to Tennessee?
“I think it’s a testament to the history of Tennessee football. Jim has had experience here, he understands the capability of this program and where it’s headed. I think it says a lot about our administration, the willingness to give us the resources to go hire the best guy in the country and I think he’s excited to work with the guys on our staff.”
How important was the timing of his hire, in regards to recruiting?
“I think the most important thing in this hire was to make sure we got the right guy. You try to do your due diligence and figure out the right fit for the job and there are certain guys you don’t have to interview, their resume speaks for itself, what they do every Saturday and Jim is certainly a guy that fits that category and we are excited it have him be a part of our staff.”
Will he coach quarterbacks?
“We’ve not decided that yet. He’s not even got in Knoxville yet. I guess when he gets here, we’ll figure that out moving forward.”
Why did the search take so long?
“Well, there’s no need to rush. Spring ball doesn’t start until March, you want to make sure you get it right. There’s lots of really good coaches out there. Some guys were coaching in bowls, some guys were coaching in the NFL. To do your due diligence and make sure you get the right guy, sometimes it takes time. Plus you got recruiting, the early signing period has changed the process of that when it comes to, you know, hiring coaches. I think last year, 79 percent of the guys that signed in the SEC signed in the early signing period so you have to make sure you spend your time recruiting.”
Why is Chaney the right fit for your staff at Tennessee?
“I just think he’s one of the brightest minds in college football. He’s produced everywhere he’s been. His experience in this league, he’s done it a number of different ways and I think that’s important.”
What is the identity of Tennessee’s offense?
“I think the most important thing is we score one more point than the team we play. You might have to win a game 53-52 or you may have to win 3-2. The most important thing is winning so just finding a way to get it done.”
What did you mean when you said offensive coordinators are overrated?
“I don’t think that’s exactly what I said, Jimmy. I think the question was when it comes to recruiting, how tough was it to recruit without an offensive coordinator. In this business, assistant coaches change. The most important thing with anyone is recruiting to the head coach. It helps a guy knowing the system but you can look at it in the NFL, these guys go back and forth with jobs and it happens in college football. If you have a guy that’s a really good offensive coordinator, or defensive coordinator, they have opportunities to move on. I think that happens all the time in college football, that’s just the nature of the business and I think you have to recruit to the head coach.”
Did you interview coaches simply for information?
“I would say everyone I talked to I had sincere interest. I would never want to waste someone’s time doing that.”