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Jeremy Pruitt provides Vol fans with wake-up call they need

Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee coach

Jeremy Pruitt’s decision to chide Tennessee fans about their lack of participation in the Orange and White Game is a statement that needs to be taken to heart. Like his former boss, Nick Saban, Pruitt spoke his mind on Saturday with no regard as to how it might affect the collective feelings of UT’s fan base.

He accused his players of quitting and tied that into a critique of the fans who didn’t show up for the final practice of spring camp. That didn’t go over well with all Tennessee supporters.

Some fans have expressed frustration over being called out. Perhaps they need a Butch Jones’ cliche or a bizarre Derek Dooley press conference to feel better about themselves. However, that won’t help the Vols in the long term. Recent history has proven as
much.

To put it frankly, Pruitt doesn’t care what the fan base thinks about him. That sounds harsh, but it should be considered a positive trait.

Pruitt has clawed his way into a premier head coaching job after a 20-plus year career. He’s smart enough to know what he signed up for. The same fans who have whined about being called out will love him if he wins at a high level. The same fans who supported him with their presence on Saturday will call for his firing if he doesn’t win at a high level.

Pruitt knows this is his shot at proving himself as a head coach. He’s not guaranteed another chance at this level.

I’m certainly not criticizing UT’s fan base for an announced crowd of 65,000 at the spring game, which was probably actually about 45,000 in reality. That’s a strong showing considering what UT’s fan base has been through over the past decade. Imagine if the weather had been bad. The attendance could have been less than 20,000.

RELATED: After watching spring game, maybe Vols will be better than anticipated.

It’s the fans who were miffed over Pruitt’s comments who need to change their perspective. Pruitt said in a follow-up interview that he just wants UT to be the best.

“To me, if we’re going to do it, our goal is to be the best at whatever we do, and that’s the way we’re going to look at it as a football program,” Pruitt said during an appearance on “The Nation” radio show.

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