Who Deserves the Blame?

#26

sjt18

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#26
Sadly, I'm thinking 2020 at the earliest, with a marginal improvement this year at most. Generally, it takes about three years to develop a lineman, and that position is still the weakest link . . . and it's the link that holds everything together.
Jones used to say that about OL's... but it isn't true.

If there's only "marginal" improvement this year then there's a really good chance that Pruitt isn't the guy. We need to see a 3 or 4 game improvement.
 
#27

PEPPERJAX

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#27
Are fans asking too much for 6 or 7 wins and a lower tier bowl appearance this upcoming season? Not really IMO. The 2019 schedule is far less brutal than the 2020 schedule. So yeah Pruitt deserves the blame if we don’t reach that win total. He also needs to show some improvement to recruits and the fan base. I am not exactly going to do backflips for a 6-6 type of year either.
 
#28

SKBubba

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#28
I think (hope) there will be improvement this year and more next year. But, I'll be curious to see how Pruitt evolves as a head coach. No doubt he knows football, but there's a lot more to running a major college football program than Xs and Os. We'll see if his personality is a fit.
 
#30

05_never_again

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#30
I'm not the President of the Jeremy Pruitt fan club, but it's not his fault our administration gave football the bird by consecutively hiring 4 cheap head coaches....
That's one of the great misconceptions of our fanbase.

For starters, Kiffin (and particularly his staff) was not cheap. If anything, Kiffin's staff was wildly overpaid. Kiffin's personal salary was not eye-popping, but if memory serves his staff pool was 4th in the SEC, behind only Saban, Richt, and Urban. Monte was making well over $1m/year, which was basically unheard of for assistants at that time. Even today, those kinds of assistant salaries are more common but still are very large.

The hires that followed were cheap not by design, but because cheap choices were the only ones. I think that's a popular argument around VN because it makes us feel better. "The only problem is that we're cheap. All it takes is opening up the wallet and we'd be great again."

The last decade of Tennessee football has been a black hole because of administrative dysfunction and incompetence. There is not a lack of desire to spend money or a lack of desire to be a top program. The problem is that there are factions of people (one in particular) who want to be good on their terms. They want to be great, but they want that greatness to come because it was their idea and they want to get all the credit for it. It's an ego thing.
 
#31

1vol8

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#31
Butch was a star gazer and the previous administration was more about trying to win without the COST it takes to win. Really bad combination. I think the 2019 class will be the one that starts the upward trend. I don't think its fair to start pointing fingers at a coaching staff that hasn't had time to get a full team of their own players on the field. Pruitt had basically half the time that is required to build relationships with recruits for the 2018 class. And we did see a little improvement from 2017 to 2018. I expect to see a little more in 2019. But it won't be until the 2021- 2022 season that we can judge how good of a coach Pruitt will be because that's the yr that every single player on the field is one he hand selected. I say until then just be patient. Anything less than that is a premature criticism.
 
#32

05_never_again

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#32
Considering people only in official positions with the University (because some people will say some boosters are at blame more than the other, and their exact decision-making influence is nebulous), the single person most to blame for the state of Tennessee football is Mike Hamilton.

Now, I know people will say "How can you say that - Mike Hamilton was last there in 2011." There have been numerous others who have made bad decisions after him, but they were placed into those bad spots because of decisions Hamilton made. It's a vicious cycle.

Hamilton hires Kiffin and Kiffin leaves. It was really cheap for Kiffin to leave, because Hamilton didn't secure a large buyout. According to Jimmy Sexton, Hamilton called him after Phil was fired and said "I know we're still in the season...gimme someone to talk to. I need someone to talk to." Sexton told Hamilton to call Kiffin, who was unemployed at the time, and the rest his history. Nobody else was really ever seriously considered.

Once Kiffin leaves, instead of letting Kippy be interim or compromising on a deal that could have been done with Cutcliffe, he panics and hires Derek Dooley in a short-sighted effort to maintain the recruiting class Kiffin had coming in, which was fairly highly rated. Dooley's 3-year tenure is a disaster and once he's fired by Dave Hart, there isn't exactly a great candidate list for him to pick from, in addition to the AD not being in a great place financially at the time. He hires Butch, who was probably as "best we could get at the time" hire, and while showing promise initially flames out in epic fashion, and now here we are with Pruitt.

There were unforced errors too that have nothing to do with Hamilton, like the hiring of Currie to replace Hart.
 
#33

Volfan76

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#33
At the risk of sounding like I am attacking some of the posters on here (which I am not), There is nothing you can do about history except learn from it. I am tired of hearing about whos fault it is. My wife has a little plaque that says, "Having a bad day? Cry yourself a river; build yourself a bridge and then get over it." Come this fall we will know if its all better or not.
Do you have any plaques about people who have made millions while causing you to have a bad decade?
 
#34

BigOrangeMojo

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#34
That's one of the great misconceptions of our fanbase.

For starters, Kiffin (and particularly his staff) was not cheap. If anything, Kiffin's staff was wildly overpaid. Kiffin's personal salary was not eye-popping, but if memory serves his staff pool was 4th in the SEC, behind only Saban, Richt, and Urban. Monte was making well over $1m/year, which was basically unheard of for assistants at that time. Even today, those kinds of assistant salaries are more common but still are very large.

The hires that followed were cheap not by design, but because cheap choices were the only ones. I think that's a popular argument around VN because it makes us feel better. "The only problem is that we're cheap. All it takes is opening up the wallet and we'd be great again."

The last decade of Tennessee football has been a black hole because of administrative dysfunction and incompetence. There is not a lack of desire to spend money or a lack of desire to be a top program. The problem is that there are factions of people (one in particular) who want to be good on their terms. They want to be great, but they want that greatness to come because it was their idea and they want to get all the credit for it. It's an ego thing.
Regarding Kiffin, the total staff pay was 4th when hired, 5th by the time the season started, and 6th by the time bowl bonuses were earned. You are 100% correct, we overpaid big time for Monte Kiffin and O was overpaid for his role. The rest of the staff was average/underpaid by SEC standards.

The problem is we've never attempted to make a splash hire because the Haslams (either here and in Cleveland) have decided that paying $$$$ for a head coach is a waste. "Mid Major Mike" Hamilton ran the athletic department like UT was a mid major (which the Haslams wanted). We had a legitimate shot with Mullen back in 2017 (This was when everyone thought Chip Kelly was going to UF) but we di-ked around too long and "ended up" with the cheaper Haslam-approved choice in Schiano.
 
#37

IPleadInsanity

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#37
If Pruitt somehow doesn’t get us 6-7 wins into a Bowl game this season, is it fair to blame Pruitt or the Administration for putting the program in bad position for the future HC’s of Tennessee?

Say what you want too but I believe even the best proven coaches, would have a hard time recruiting this year due to having zero draft picks in the NFL and poor development from Butch Jones.

Pruitt was used to being at a place where they put their program in the best position to win. Bama is serious about winning, we were not.

This is why I’m hoping Fulmer can turn this culture around, someone who truly cares about Tennessee athletics and not just the money in their pockets.

Pruitt is a really knowledgeable guy who understands football. He’s said over & over again that he wants to win right away but it seems like he’s having a lot of negative things going against him right now.

I don’t think it’s entirely his fault because I don’t think even he knew, it would be this hard of a job to win here considering the circumstances.
The UT administration is primarily responsible for the state of UT athletics, no one else played a bigger role in the demise. The Jones hire was their biggest mistake because at that point UT was still a viable recruiting power. Now it's a much bigger task for coach to bring the program back.
 
#38

VOLINVONORE

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#38
It all started when Lamar Alexander left as President of our University and Cheek was selected to run the Knoxville Campus. Sports programs lost the luster they had obtained and revenue generated was shared with other department within the University. The Educational reputation of the University continued to grow at the expense of our Athletic Programs. Every Sport Program fell from their highly respectable positions to the middle pack or worse. The Administration of the University has now changed and progress is being made. It is a much slower process rebuilding than tearing down. I think the Administration is now supporting our Athletic Programs in a manner similar to which it did in the 1990s and early 2000s. Hopefully the support will continue and our Academic and Athletic reputations will continue rise and our Sports Programs will once again be among the best in that Nation. Have faith we will be singing “Happy Days” are here again.
 
#40

Gandalf

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#40
The right coach will overcome the circumstances... or be the beneficiary of divine providence. It doesn't matter who you blame. It only matters what standards you demand and how decisive you are when they aren't met. "Patience" with Jones is a major contributor to the hole Pruitt inherited. If someone had been bold enough to recognize the fatal weaknesses in Jones after he won 8 games with an 11 win roster... and take action... someone else might have built on that talent. But it is hard to fire a coach that wins 9 games. Hard but in retrospect the right thing to have done.

This thread and conversation are deja vu all over again. When Jones arrived, people blamed Dooley for Jones lack of success. Only us "traitors" dared to cast a critical eye toward what Jones was doing with what he was left. Now... a significant number who once excused Jones are blaming him. The truth is that every coach since Fulmer ran the program into the ditch has inherited a crappy situation. The roster Kiffin inherited was downright awful. It had a few really good players with some bad players to compliment... and no depth. Dooley inherited a roster completely dependent on youth then handed Jones one that was similar to what Kiffin inherited. Now Pruitt has inherited a roster with lots of issues. Hopefully some of those issues were just development rather than talent. We'll know soon.

But the bottom line is that great coaches, coach great. They coach great when they have Bama talent. They coach great when they have bottom level talent. A great coach gets more out of a roster than the sum of its raw talent. Because they do, players want to play for them.

I like Pruitt. I like him better than any of the previous 3. I think he's a better "coach" of the game than the previous 3. UT has poured more money into hiring a top shelf staff than at any point I can remember in the last 30+ years. But he has to show significant results within 3 years or the chances are he never will. There's a momentum to turning a program around that relies on a good start to sustain recruiting among other things.
I don't often agree with sjt18, but when I do, you can be pretty darn sure to take it as gospel truth.


As you can see, a few years ago I decided to trim my hair and beard and go with the "short look" for a bit.
 
#41

05_never_again

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#41
Regarding Kiffin, the total staff pay was 4th when hired, 5th by the time the season started, and 6th by the time bowl bonuses were earned. You are 100% correct, we overpaid big time for Monte Kiffin and O was overpaid for his role. The rest of the staff was average/underpaid by SEC standards.

The problem is we've never attempted to make a splash hire because the Haslams (either here and in Cleveland) have decided that paying $$$$ for a head coach is a waste. "Mid Major Mike" Hamilton ran the athletic department like UT was a mid major (which the Haslams wanted). We had a legitimate shot with Mullen back in 2017 (This was when everyone thought Chip Kelly was going to UF) but we di-ked around too long and "ended up" with the cheaper Haslam-approved choice in Schiano.
"At the time he was hired" is the time you should key off of though. When Kiffin and his staff came on, they were well-compensated, particularly his staff and his dad. In particular, I think Hamilton really wanted Monte more than Lane. Those guys aren't going to get bumps in pay just because another coach got a raise before his first season started. Kiffin was absolutely a splash hire and failed spectacularly. Hamilton was a complete administrative idiot, but he didn't run the AD like a mid-major school. Mid-major ADs don't hire guys like Kiffin. Hamilton went for the eyebrow-raising, edgy, splashy hire on that one. He wanted a guy who contrasted with Fulmer in every way imaginable.

After Kiffin left in the dead of night, no coach worth their salt except Cut wanted the job, but Hamilton refused to compromise with him. He allegedly also had a shot at Gary Patterson, but missed his shot with him too. He panicked and hired Dooley, and after that disaster we were left with Butch and a bunch of Butch-like candidates to pick from. Even the people who we really wanted at the time other than Dooley/Butch, like Muschamp, Sumlin, or Charlie Strong didn't turn out to be good HCs either. We were screwed no matter what we did.

Tennessee had a shot at Mullen only before Kelly went to UCLA. Once Kelly went out west, Tennessee had zero shot at Mullen. We did di ck around during that hiring process, but even if we didn't we wouldn't have gotten Mullen anyway.

I'll agree with the notion that our AD is very poorly run - I think anybody would - but the "we're cheap" angle is overblown. It'd actually be a much easier problem to solve if we were just cheap.
 
#43

05_never_again

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#43
The UT administration is primarily responsible for the state of UT athletics, no one else played a bigger role in the demise. The Jones hire was their biggest mistake because at that point UT was still a viable recruiting power. Now it's a much bigger task for coach to bring the program back.
From 2008 - present, by far the worst thing to happen to Tennessee football was Kiffin leaving and getting Dooley to replace him. That did more damage than even Currie's botched coaching search.
 
#44

knoxvol16

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#44
Jones used to say that about OL's... but it isn't true.

If there's only "marginal" improvement this year then there's a really good chance that Pruitt isn't the guy. We need to see a 3 or 4 game improvement.
Well, maybe Jones read it in a magazine article (ha!). However, Fulmer has said the same.

I hope you're right, though.
 
#45

GoVols64

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#45
Before we start tying number of wins to improvement we need to be very realistic about what will actually move the needle for us. In other words, are all of the little things improving thus leading to more Ws. Here are a few thoughts, in no particular order, that we will need to see:

Offseason:
1. Recruiting to positions of need
2. Seeing these recruits perform to potential
3. Improved physical conditioning and size (Do our players get bigger, stronger, faster)
4. Spring Game more competitive as the 2 & 3 deeps close the gap between themselves and the 1s

In-Season:
1. Are we blocking effectively in the run and passing games?
2. Are we pressuring opposing teams QBs and preventing big plays?
3. Playing clean football, minimal penalties?
4. Winning turnover battle?
5. Beating teams we should beat convincingly and playing competitively with the big boys (This comes from 1-4)

Again, this isn't meant to be some insightful list, its pretty captain obvious stuff but this is what good coaches do. They get their teams to do the little things well and that drives results. Let's hope we start seeing these things improve and, as a result, the wins come along.
 
#46

VolunteerHillbilly

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#46
I think its often not understood that Pruitt took over the worst roster in UT history. We had never gone 4-8 before and for him to take the nucleus of that team & still beat #11 UK at home & Auburn on the road shows we have the right guy at the top.

Im not sure we should blame anyone, rather just understand its a process & it will take time to right the ship. I mean, 8 of our 10 worst records in history have come in this last decade, it'll take a long, long time.

View attachment 205476
Eh. 2017 games against UF, SC and KY were all lost in 4th quarter. Team completely waived the white flag against VU. Glad Butch is gone, but 2017 Vols had the talent to easily be a 7-8 win squad before the bowl game. CJP had the talent to get to a bowl in 2018 but he puckered up against Muschamp and lost the team in Butch Jones fashion by the time Vandy rolled around. Talent was there to go bowling each of past two seasons. Coaching was the missing ingredient. Hopefully, the changes made in the off season will pay some dividends on the field.
 
#47

BigOrangeTrain

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#47
Imo the vast majority of the blame for TN football falls on Hallam, Hamilton and anyone else that’s in position of power. TN should have never fallen to this point.
 
#48

ksgovols

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#48
If Pruitt somehow doesn’t get us 6-7 wins into a Bowl game this season, is it fair to blame Pruitt or the Administration for putting the program in bad position for the future HC’s of Tennessee?

Say what you want too but I believe even the best proven coaches, would have a hard time recruiting this year due to having zero draft picks in the NFL and poor development from Butch Jones.

Pruitt was used to being at a place where they put their program in the best position to win. Bama is serious about winning, we were not.

This is why I’m hoping Fulmer can turn this culture around, someone who truly cares about Tennessee athletics and not just the money in their pockets.

Pruitt is a really knowledgeable guy who understands football. He’s said over & over again that he wants to win right away but it seems like he’s having a lot of negative things going against him right now.

I don’t think it’s entirely his fault because I don’t think even he knew, it would be this hard of a job to win here considering the circumstances.

Mike Hamilton is to blame for everything that goes wrong until order is restored to the program on a long term basis.
 
#49

TJSVOLS

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#49
Two things are going to have to happen before we ever get back to what Majors had built. One, all of the other top notch coaches in the SEC are going to have to retire or get into NCAA trouble and resign. The second is a top notch Athletic Director who can actually perform the functions of being an AD.

How many years is it going to take for you to get over majors, and I think our ad is doing just fine.
 
#50

WoodsmanVol

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#50
Who to blame? Probably preselecting blame-hunters like you. Who hide behind fake support bushes with an AK-47, a 188mm Howitzer, and planted claymore mines to blast coaches and blow up players for farting when you preferred they sneeze instead. Thus injecting an element of negativity before the first game of the season.
 
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