University of Tennessee representatives led by Phillip Fulmer continued to press on with meetings Wednesday in New York in an attempt to resolve the Vols’ nation’s-longest football head coaching vacancy.
While progress was made, the post remains officially open.
Per sources with direct knowledge, UT moved forward in talks with Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt to the point that both potential salary and projected coaching staff assignments entered into the discussions.
Pruitt did not fly back from New York with the Tennessee entourage per multiple sources; instead, the relentless and multi-time national recruiter of the year departed to continue his recruiting efforts for the Tide.
Particularly at point in the ongoing conversations between the two parties are questions regarding Pruitt’s obligations this month to College Football Playoff and Alabama’s participation versus Tennessee’s need for a head coach to hit the ground running immediately and without distraction upon being named. College football’s all-new early signing period which begins on December 20th makes this question of timeframes and priorities all the more important.
As I have previously reported, Fulmer wants to see a coach hired in time to begin making recruiting visits on behalf of the Vols this weekend.
Two years ago, Georgia hired Kirby Smart from Alabama and Smart stayed on staff with the Tide through their national championship, but began recruiting for the Bulldogs upon being named. There was no early signing period at that time and the program Smart was inheriting from Mark Richt was on much more stable footings than what the next Vols’ head coach will take over.
Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, who also would be expected to have College Football Playoff duties with the Bulldogs who meet Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl, has emerged as the Tennessee’s other top choice with Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele rounding out the trio.
(You can follow John Brice on Twitter @JohnDBrice1)
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