Less than a week after Tennessee officially named Robert Gillespie as running backs coach on Jeremy Pruitt’s first Volunteer staff, the assistant coach is no longer a member of the staff.
It was a sudden departure for Gillespie, who had served five years on Tennessee’s staff and was the lone holdover from Butch Jones’ coaches. Considering Gillespie did not receive an extension when the Vols announced Pruitt’s full staff, that could have been a sign that his future was up in Knoxville.
According to Tennessee Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer, who spoke at the Big Orange Tipoff Club on Wednesday, Gillespie didn’t appear to know the move was coming. Here’s what Fulmer had to say about the matter at the event.
“This is a big boy’s business,” Fulmer said, according to Mike Wilson of KnoxNews.com. “He understood. He was very professional. We talked yesterday. It was simply a matter of Coach Pruitt doing what he thought was right for his program and Robert.
“Robert was fine. Robert is okay. He didn’t like it, I’m not saying that. But he’s okay. He understood. It’s a big boy business.”
Judging by those statements, it doesn’t appear Gillespie wanted to leave Tennessee, but that Pruitt decided to attempt to upgrade his coaching staff with another coach. Former ASA College head coach Joe Osovet announced he was joining Tennessee’s staff Wednesday. However, he is taking an off-the-field role with the program and will not be replacing Gillespie’s running backs position.
Expect Tennessee to move quickly in naming its next running back as preparation for spring practice has already begun in Knoxville and a coach needs to be in place before long.