One quote from Jeremy Pruitt's Tennessee football tenure rings true: 'Titanic'
Jeremy Pruitt was fired for cause Monday, ending his tenure at Tennessee after three seasons.
His on-the-field successes were limited during his 16-19 stint with the Vols, but he had memorable quotes off-the-field.
Here are some of the best quotes of Pruitt's time at Tennessee:
"When the boat starts going down, remember all those mice running to the top, right?" Pruitt said to the Knoxville Quarterback Club on Sept. 9. "We have had a few that's left our program, but you will figure out who wants to be a Tennessee Vol and who don't."
Pruitt declared he thought of the movie "Titanic" after Tennessee lost to Georgia State in its season opener. The movie, he recalled, came out when he was in college.
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Do your civic duty, man
Pruitt had a phone conversation with a police officer in the early morning hours of Sept. 15, 2019, after linebacker Jeremy Banks was arrested.
Audio of the call, captured on police video, included Pruitt saying, "Go ahead. Do your civic duty, man."
Banks called Pruitt while handcuffed in the back of a police car as officers were holding him on a warrant for failing to appear in court on a citation for driving with a suspended license.
Banks handed the phone to an officer, who explained the situation to Pruitt. Pruitt told the officer he “thought (Banks) had paid the ticket” and asked the officer, “Why do you have to arrest him? Just because he has a warrant?”
The officer explained he was legally obligated to arrest Banks because of the warrant.
“This is the silliest s--- I’ve ever seen in my life,” Pruitt said during the phone conversation. Then he concluded it with the fine line of "do your civic duty, man."
'Decade of the Vols'
Tennessee had a strong end to the 2019 season when it came back to beat Indiana in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 2, 2020. Afterward, Pruitt addressed the Vols in the locker room.
He noted that Tennessee battled adversity to come back and win six straight games to close the season, then looked ahead with a bold proclamation.
"In six straight games, you found a way," Pruitt said in a video posted by UT football on Twitter. "You found a way. What did I tell you? This decade is going to be the decade of the Vols. You got me?”
Where were the fans?
Pruitt had high hopes for attendance at his first spring game at Tennessee. It's safe to say his hopes were not met.
Tennessee announced a game attendance of 65,098, while actual attendance appeared closer to 40,000, with the lower bowl mostly full and the upper bowl empty.
Pruitt expressed his displeasure with the lack of fans after the 2018 spring game.
“The ones that were here, I’m proud they were here," Pruitt said. "They’re fired up. They’re ready to get going. And then there were some people that wasn’t here that had legitimate reasons. They couldn’t be here. Then there were some people that wasn’t here that, why wasn’t they here?
Closing the gap
Tennessee was bludgeoned by Alabama in a 31-point loss that was never competitive on Oct. 24.
Afterward, Pruitt declared that the Vols and Crimson Tide, who won the national title, are not as far apart as they were when he was hired.
“It might not show on the scoreboard today, but the gap is closing,” Pruitt said. “I can assure you that.”
Alabama outscored Tennessee 141-51 in Pruitt’s tenure. The Vols lost by 37 in Pruitt's first season before playing a more impressive game in a 22-point loss in 2019. They lost 48-17 in Pruitt's final game at Tennessee against Nick Saban, his former boss.
“I know the people that are on that sideline and I know the people that are on our sideline,” Pruitt said. “I think I’ve got a pretty good idea and I’ve been around some pretty good football teams to know when I see one and to know when one is getting closer.”
Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.