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By The Numbers: Jeremy Pruitt’s Tenure So Far With The Vols

 

Jeremy Pruitt

As Tennessee stands at 2-3 midway through the season, Jeremy Pruitt has now coached 30 games so far as head coach of the Vols. I have seen a lot of articles about Pruitt and his tenure so far at Tennessee.

Mostly, these articles have not been very positive, to say the very least. Hell, even I wrote an opinion piece comparing him to a poor Butch Jones.

Maybe that was a bit harsh.

That is why I have decided to write this piece. This article aims to compare his first 30 games as head coach to Butch Jones and Derek Dooley.

So let’s get started.

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Overall Record

Pruitt, through 30 games as head coach of Tennessee has a record of 15-15. In his first two years, Pruitt’s teams went 5-7 in 2018 and 8-5 in 2019. Tennessee now stands at 2-3.

Jones in his first 30 games as Tennessee’s head coach had a record of 14-16. In his first two seasons, Butch’s teams went 5-7 in 2013 and 7-6 in 2014. By the time he reached the 30 game mark, his 2015 team was 2-3 as well.

Dooley in his first 30 games as head coach of the Vols had a record of 14-16 as well. In Dooley’s first two seasons, Dooley’s teams went 6-7 in 2010 and 5-7 in 2011. Out of the three coaches, Dooley was the only coach whose team had a winning record at this point, with the record of 3-2.

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Record vs. SEC Opponents

I also wanted to look at Pruitt, Butch, and Dooley’s records after 30 games against our conference rivals: Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt.

It is worth noting that some teams record that will only have two games because that’s how many times they played each other until each coach reached the 30 game mark.

Here is what Pruitt’s stats were against these opponents:

  • Georgia: 0-3 (12-38 in 2018, 14-43 in 2019, 21-44 in 2020)
  • Alabama: 0-3 (21-58 in 2018, 13-35 in 2019, 17-48 in 2020)
  • Kentucky: 2-1 ( 24-7 in 2018, 17-13 in 2019, 7-34 in 2020)
  • Vanderbilt: 1-1 (13-38 in 2018, 28-10 in 2019)
  • Florida: 0-2 (21-47 in 2018, 3-34 in 2019)

Pruitt’s overall record among these opponents is 3-10.

Here is what Jones’ stats were against these opponents:

  • Georgia: 0-2 (31-34 in 2013, 32-35 in 2014)
  • Alabama: 0-2 (10-45 in 2013, 20-34 in 2014)
  • Kentucky: 2-0 (27-14 in 2013, 50-16 in 2014)
  • Vanderbilt: 1-1 (10-14 in 2013, 24-17 in 2015)
  • Florida: 0-3 (17-31 in 2013, 9-10 in 2014, 27-28 in 2015)

Butch Jones’s record is 3-8

Here is what Dooley’s stats were against those teams:

  • Georgia: 0-3 (14-41 in 2010, 12-20 in 2011, 44-51 in 2012)
  • Alabama: 0-2 (10-41 in 2010, 6-37 in 2011)
  • Florida: 0-3 (17-31 in 2010, 23-33 in 2011, 20-37 in 2012)
  • Kentucky: 1-1 (24-14 in 2010, 7-10 in 2011)
  • Vanderbilt: 2-0 (24-10 in 2010, 27-21 in 2011)

Derek Dooley’s record is 3-9.

So, in general, there is very little difference among these coaches’ records against these opponents 30 games into their Tennessee tenure.

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Average Loss Against The Big 3

One of the things that surprised me the most was Pruitt’s average loss against the Big 3 (Alabama, Florida, Georgia).

When Pruitt faces those three teams, here is the average point differential:

  • Georgia averages a win by 26
  • Alabama averages a win by 30
  • Florida averages a win by 28
  • Vols averaged a loss by 28 when facing these teams under Pruitt

Now let’s compare the point differential in the Butch and Dooley Era.

Butch Jones

  • Georgia averages a win by 3
  • Alabama averages a win by 20
  • Florida averages a win by 5
  • Vols averaged a loss by 9 when facing these teams under Butch

Derek Dooley

  • Georgia averages a win by 14
  • Alabama averages a win by 31
  • Florida averages a win by 14
  • Vols averaged a loss by 20 points when facing these teams under Dooley

Statistically speaking, it turns out that Pruitt is the worst coach among the three when it comes to facing Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.

Dooley and Pruitt also join Bowden Wyatt as the only coaches to have lost to Kentucky in their first three seasons as head coach.

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Recruiting Rankings

I am getting pretty sick and tired of hearing the argument that when Pruitt came in that the program had no talent on the roster whatsoever. It would be appropriate to include all three coaches’ first three recruiting class rankings (rankings that are being used are from 247Sports).

Here are the rankings for Pruitt’s first three recruiting classes:

  • 2018: 21st nationally, 8th in the SEC
  • 2019: 13th nationally, 7th in the SEC
  • 2020: 10th nationally, 7th in the SEC
  • This averages to 15th nationally and 7th in the SEC

Jones’ first three recruiting classes:

  • 2013: 25th nationally, 11th in the SEC
  • 2014: 7th nationally, 5th in the SEC
  • 2015: 4th nationally, 2nd in the SEC
  • This averages to 12th nationally and 6th in the SEC

Dooley’s three recruiting classes:

  • 2010: 7th nationally, 4th in the SEC
  • 2011: 14th nationally, 6th in the SEC
  • 2012: 19th nationally, 8th in the SEC
  • This averages to 13th nationally and 6th in the SEC

It is important to note that Jones’ last two recruiting classes (2016 and 2017) finished 14th and 17th nationally. It is also important to remember that even though Dooley’s last recruiting class, despite finishing 19th, did not have a single offensive line recruit sign.

There is a lot of things you can argue when it comes to these numbers.

You could argue that Jones had less talent than Pruitt did when he first came to Tennessee. You could also argue that most of the talent on the roster when Pruitt came in was poorly developed.

In fact, I think a lot of us would agree with that. But if we are going to base it off the rankings, Butch’s situation was worse than Pruitt’s was.

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Wins Against Winning Teams

Lastly, we will look at the number of wins each coach has against winning teams 30 games in.

Pruitt has won 15 of the 30 games he has coached so far for the Tennessee Volunteers. Out of those 15 wins, only 6 of those teams had winning records.

Three in 2018 and Three in 2019.

The three teams that finished with winning records in 2018 are East Tennessee State (FCS), Auburn, and Kentucky. ETSU finished 8-4, Auburn went 8-5, and Kentucky went 10-3 in 2018.

The three teams that finished with winning records in 2019 were UAB, Kentucky, and Indiana. UAB finished 9-5, Kentucky went 8-5, and Indiana went 8-5.

Now let’s compare that to Jones and Dooley.

Jones won 14 of the first 30 games as Tennessee head coach. Out of those 14 wins, 9 of those wins were against teams with winning records.

Two in 2013, five in 2014, and two in 2015.

The two teams that finished with winning records in 2013 were Western Kentucky and South Carolina. Western Kentucky finished that year at 8-4, and South Carolina finished at 11-2.

The five teams that finished with a winning record in 2014 were Utah State, Arkansas State, Chattanooga (FCS), South Carolina, and Iowa. Utah State went 10-4, Arkansas State went 7-6, Chattanooga went 10-4, South Carolina went 7-6, and Iowa went 7-6.

Two teams that Jones after the 30 game mark in 2015 with winning records were Bowling Green and Western Carolina (FCS). Bowling Green finished that year 10-4, and Western Carolina went 7-4.

Dooley won 14 of his first 30 games as Vols head coach. Out of those 14 wins, only 4 of those wins came from teams winning records.

The only team Dooley beat with a winning record in 2010 was Tennessee-Martin (FCS), who went 6-5.

The two teams Dooley’s teams beat with a winning record in 2011 were Montana (FCS), who went 11-3, and Cincinnati, who finished 10-3.

Lastly, the only team Dooley beat with a winning record in 2012 at the 30 game mark was NC State, who went 7-6 that season.

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Final Note

It’s clear that Pruitt is far better in this statistic than Dooley. It’s worth noting that Kentucky and Auburn were both in the top 25 when Pruitt’s teams beat them.

Pruitt has 5 games left this season and will more than likely coach another 12 games in 2021. It is possible that he turns the program around and gets it back on track; I hope he does.

But if you look at the stats, 30 games in, he is not much better than Jones and Dooley at the moment.

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