Paul Finebaum reacts to Tennessee investigation news: 'Someone on the inside is out to get Jeremy Pruitt'
Tennessee’s football program has had a tumultuous few days recently as the Vols lost to Texas A&M, a report surfaced about an internal investigation over recruiting, and the team’s trip to the Liberty Bowl was canceled because of rising COVID-19 cases in the program.
All of that puts an ominous cloud over coach Jeremy Pruitt’s future in Knoxville, which was increasingly dire because of the way the Vols finished the season. SEC Network host Paul Finebaum addressed the situation on his regular appearance “The Roundtable” on WJOX 94.5 in Birmingham, Alabama.
“The information that came out, Jim, you and I have been in the reporting business for a long time and that is not easy information to ascertain. If there’s an internal investigation, those are usually tightly held,” Finebaum said. “Auburn, if I remember correctly, withheld an NCAA investigation letter for months, I’m not even sure they still acknowledged it in basketball, yeah they did because they finally self-imposed. But it seems like someone on the inside was or is out to get Jeremy Pruitt. I can’t tell you who it is, I really don’t, it’s a little fuzzy at the moment.”
Finebaum earlier discussed booster interference at Auburn, and he said Tennessee is similar.
“It’s pretty legendary how deep and how far back it goes,” he said. “So I think the Tennessee situation across the board is very fluid. I felt better about Jeremy Pruitt’s future on Sunday when the bowl was announced, and I felt worst about it yesterday when the bowl was scrapped. I realize why it was scrapped because of COVID issues, but it’s still a very tenuous situation and I don’t know where it’s going. But if that is the case, it really makes me feel sorry for Jeremy Pruitt because that’s a pretty dirty way to do something.”
Finebaum was then asked about Liberty coach Hugh Freeze being an “heir apparent” to Pruitt and whether there is an appetite in the SEC to have the former Ole Miss coach back in the conference.
“I don’t think there’s a great appetite and yes, within Knoxville, Hugh Freeze is the social media king of the Tennessee job,” he said. “But I’m not sure the old-line Tennessee people want him. It’s somewhat similar to what we saw, or have seen at Auburn. Clearly there had to be pushback. I don’t know exactly how that message is being delivered, but there seems to be more pushback for Hugh Freeze in the jobs we’ve seen open and that are imagined to be open than I expected. But I don’t think that’s a slam dunk.”