Jeremy Pruitt has been handed his pink slip at Tennessee, and he needs to be replaced ASAP.
The ongoing investigation at Tennessee proved to be too much for Jeremy Pruitt, as the former Alabama defensive coordinator was canned by AD Philip Fulmer, who also announced his impending retirement as an already chaotic situation in Knoxville moved into tire fire territory.
The Volunteers need a coach who will drag an underperforming roster out of the doldrums while weathering the storm that Pruitt created in his three years in Knoxville. Any of these five could be the man for the job.
One of these five coaches could end up replacing Jeremy Pruitt
5. Kevin Steele, Tennessee
Steele, who spent last year as the defensive coordinator with Auburn, was not retained after the Tigers chose Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin over him to replace Gus Malzahn. With Pruitt’s firing, Steele, who recently accepted the defensive coordinator job at Tennessee, was named interim head coach. While the temptation is to either go and get a big name head coach or a youngster that has shown an ability to get the most out of a quarterback, Steele’s history of success in the SEC at Auburn could help him get the interim tag removed, even if he is 62 years old.
Save for a two-year spell at Clemson, Steele has been in the SEC since 2007, serving as a linebacker coach and defensive coordinator with schools like Alabama and LSU before being handed the reins to the Auburn defense in 2016. Under Malzahn, Steeler crafted a relentless unit that routinely ranked at or near the top of the SEC in key categories while sending stars like Derrick Brown to the NFL with regularity.
Steele might not be the most offense-friendly guy in the world, but he’s proven he can win in the SEC, and that should count for a lot among the search committee in charge of replacing Pruitt.