"There was a time and place this university was feared. My goal is to get us back to that point."

Those words are what every Vol fan wanted to hear after a decade of struggles on the football field, and that's what Jeremy Pruitt promised as he was introduced as the new head coach of the University of Tennessee.

More News

Next Story

Not Available

Just For You

Not Available


Not Available

Pruitt, who grew up in Alabama learning about football from his dad, a high school coach, played college football at MTSU and Alabama. He was an assistant for three national championships with the Crimson Tide and one at Florida State.

Now he's the 26th coach at UT, and with very high expectations.

In her introduction, Chancellor Beverly Davenport said Pruitt told her he wanted to win championships. Her answer? "Tennessee expects you to."

So former UT head coach Phillip Fulmer, named director of athletics just six days ago and calling Pruitt a man of integrity who changes lives, handed the reigns of the program he loves to Pruitt, along with a Tennessee jersey with the number 26 on it.

Pruitt, wearing the first of many new orange ties, and speaking in a southern drawl that's probably comforting to many Vol fans, started out by saying how thankful and humbled he was to be there.

His vision for his Volunteer football team? Big. Fast. Dominating. He wants to be a team "nobody in the SEC wants to play."

How do you get there?

He said he'd lay the groundwork with the existing players, who he met with earlier today.

"They're hungry, excited," he said.

Then it's about hitting the road, building relationships and recruiting the best players that are a fit for UT. He said he wants players who have goals that include getting a degree. Education will be a top priority for the former elementary school teacher.

He said he needs everyone's help to reach those goals. Not just the players and the staff he expects to hire, but the fans, the former players - everyone who has a stake in Tennessee football.

"Positive energy," he said will be what brings everyone together to achieve what everyone wants -- a winning football team.

He knows the expectations are high, but said his are higher.

"My expectation is to win every game we play," he said.

He has not hired anyone to his staff yet, but said he is looking for good people, teachers who know how to recruit, and who will be loyal to UT.

He said he's ready to start recruiting, and even joked he'd keep the press conference short so he could get started. There are recruits coming to town this weekend, and he's anxious to meet with them.

While he's all in at Tennessee, once the dead period for recruiting begins, he will travel back to coach his defensive players at Alabama as they play in the College Football Playoff.

"I have a commitment to the kids at Alabama," he said. "So I'm gong to go back and coach those kids."

He'll make $3.8 million per year under a six-year contract, according to the memorandum of understanding released by the University of Tennessee.

Pruitt and his wife Casey have three sons -- Ridge, Jace and Flynt.

Pruitt's hire brings to a close one of the most dramatic and eventful college football coaching searches in recent memory.

Former Tennessee head coach Butch Jones was fired nearly four weeks ago after a 50-17 loss to the Mizzou Tigers in Columbia, Missouri. Tennessee went on to finish the year with its worst record in program history (4-8), going winless in SEC play.

The coaching search that followed at the end of the regular season might go down in history as one of the most turbulent and unpredictable moments in college sports this decade.

Former Director of Athletics John Currie nearly hired Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, but news of the deal sparked outrage in the Tennessee community.

The deal fell through, rumors of other deals came and went, and Currie's tenure at Tennessee soon fell to the sounds of outrage from fans, lawmakers and many others as the rest of the SEC fan base watched on with morbid curiosity.

On Friday, Dec. 1, Currie was suspended and former Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer was placed into the role as director of athletics, much to the relief of many VFLs. He has been in charge of the search ever since and within a week has decisively put a close to this odd chapter in the Vols' history.