Getty Images

Tennessee officially hands keys to Vols to Alabama DC Jeremy Pruitt

10 Comments

And on the 25th day, they rested.

On Nov. 12, Tennessee fired Butch Jones, much to the delight of Vols fans far and wide.  Following a coaching search that took nearly a month — one which featured an athletic department coup as part of myriad twists and turns that included several reported snubs on the part of potential candidates — UT officially has its man as it confirmed reports from overnight that Jeremy Pruitt is its new head football coach.

The fact that newly-minted athletic director Phillip Fulmer, a Tennessean who is a walking embodiment of a Vol-For-Lifer, hired a man born in the state of Alabama… played his college football for hated rival Alabama… and comes to Knoxville after spending the past two seasons in Tuscaloosa as Nick Saban‘s defensive coordinator is the perfect resolution to one of the wildest coaching searches in recent memory.

“Six days ago, I mentioned several attributes that I sought to find in the next leader of our football program, and Coach Pruitt meets all criteria” Fulmer said. “I’m certain he appreciates the unique opportunity to lead a program of Tennessee’s caliber. He’s driven to win at the highest level. He will honor our university’s values, operate with integrity and be a role model for our student-athletes.”

Pruitt will be officially introduced at a 6:05 p.m. ET press conference Thursday evening.

In addition to his time at ‘Bama, which included a stint with the Crimson Tide from 2007-12, the 43-year-old Pruitt also served as the coordinator at Georgia (2014-15) and Florida State (2013).  His initial tour with the Tide was his first at the FBS level, outside of a graduate assistant position in 1997… at ‘Bama.

This will mark the first head-coaching position for the 43-year-old Pruitt at any level.

“I know Coach Pruitt will hit the ground running and go to work restoring our program to a championship level,” Fulmer added.

Pruitt will head into this Rocky Top rebuild armed with a six-year contract.  The long-time coordinator will also embark on his head-coaching career with a schedule that features matchups against Florida, at Georgia, at Auburn and, you guessed it, Alabama serving as his first four SEC games.

Just as Kirby Smart did when he accepted the head-coaching job at Georgia two years ago, Pruitt is expected remain at Alabama for however long this playoff run lasts before giving his full and undivided attention to taking over a Tennessee team that just capped the storied football program’s first-ever winless SEC campaign.

With Pruitt’s hiring, three former Saban defensive coordinators are now head coaches in the SEC East — Pruitt, Smart and South Carolina’s Will Muschamp. Additionally, with Pruitt onboard, six of the seven coaches in the division, Florida’s Dan Mullen being the lone exception, are former defensive coordinators.

Finally, as noted by USA Today‘s Dan Wolken, 11 of the 14 head coaches in the conference are currently represented by one man — super-agent Jimmy Sexton.

Rutgers hires search firm to help find new football coach

Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Rutgers has officially been in the market for a new head football coach for over a week, and now the school is going to get some help from a search firm.

Rutgers announced a new partnership with Ventura Partners on Monday. The firm will help Rutgers in searching for a new head football coach and may assist in helping to hire other new leaders in the future as Rutgers looks to revitalize their entire athletics department.

“We are excited to be working with Ventura Partners,” Rutgers Director of Athletics Pat Hobbs said in a released statement on Monday. “They provide a unique range of services, including talent acquisition and development. We will begin working together immediately to ensure excellent leadership for our football program. They will also be working with us throughout the engagement on strengthening our human resources and providing market data and intelligence.”

Rutgers fired Chris Ash as head coach on Sept. 29, which is a costly move thanks to a previous contract extension. The Scarlet Knights have since been dealing with a handful of players redshirting the remainder of the season and an abysmal performance on the road against Indiana in which the team gained just 75 yards of offense while giving up over 500 yards to the Hoosiers.

Mike Aresco expects to hear update on AAC championship game waiver “in the next month”

Brad Horrigan/Hartford Courant/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
Leave a comment

With the upcoming departure of UConn from the American Athletic Conference, the staus of the AAC Championship Game is officially in question. Without 12 football-playing members, the AAC does not satisfy the NCAA requirement to play an official conference championship game without a waiver. Not wanting to give up the title game just a few short years after implementing it (and accepting the extra revenue generated in the TV contract), AAC commissioner Mike Aresco is hoping to get some positive word on a waiver request sometime soon.

How soon?

It looks like we may have an update on this situation within the month. The sooner, the better.

UConn is leaving the AAC after this current football season, and Aresco has made it clear the conference still wants to continue playing its conference title game. The current plan is for the AAC to scrap the two-division format entirely and pit the two best teams in a conference championship game at the end of the regular season (an idea that would work well in almost every conference, by the way). The AAC reportedly field a formal waiver to allow for the championship game to live on back in August.

The Big 12 currently only has 10 members and has been granted permission to field a conference championship game on top of the round-robin schedule played during the season. If the Big 12 can have a conference title game without 12 members, then the AAC should be getting confirmation their conference championship game will continue too. But waiting for the official word is needed before the conference can start making plans for 2020 and beyond.

At this point, there remains no sign the conference is looking to add a 12th member for football, which would negate the need for a waiver. But if the waiver is denied, for some reason, then expect the AAC expansion rumors to start flying once again.

Michigan Class of 2018 four-star TE Mustapha Muhammad enters NCAA transfer portal

Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
1 Comment

The NCAA transfer portal has been busy this Monday. Add Michigan tight end Mustapha Muhammad as one of the latest entrants into the transfer portal. Muhammad made the transfer portal news himself with an announcement on his Twitter account Monday afternoon.

Muhammad is a redshirt freshman. He will have to sit out the 2020 season if he lands at another FBS program, and he will have two years of eligibility remaining beginning 2021. By entering the transfer portal, Muhammad is free to have contact with any other football program looking to recruit him out of Ann Arbor. The Texas native signed with Michigan over offers from Ohio State, Alabama, and Clemson, among others. Unfortunately, the highly rated recruit hasn’t been able to establish a key role in the Michigan offense early on, even with the Wolverines offense looking for playmakers.

Michigan’s tight end position appears to be settled with Nick Eubanks and Sean McKeon reaching the midway point of the season as Michigan’s leading tight ends when it comes to receiving yards. Eubanks is fifth on the team overall with 128 receiving yards and a touchdown. McKeon has added 96 yards and two touchdowns. Both players are seniors, however, but Michigan also has redshirt freshman Luke Schoonmaker as an option at the tight end position moving forward.

Oregon DB Kahlef Halassie steps into transfer portal

Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Oregon defensive back Kahlef Hailassie is now officially on the market. Hailassie announced on his Twitter account on Monday afternoon he has officially entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal.

A sophomore and a member of Oregon’s Class of 2018, Hailassie is now eligible to have contact with any other college football program that may be interested in recruiting him to their program. when he committed to the Ducks out of high school, Hailassie chose Oregon over offers from Colorado and Washington State, among others. Hailassie had previously committed to Colorado during his recruiting process, only to de-commit shortly after an official visit to Boulder.

Hailassie played in just three games this season before being sidelined with an injury. Because he has played in fewer than four games, Hailassie can use the 2019 season as a redshirt year. Hailassie played in all 13 games for Oregon as a true freshman in 2018, recording one tackle as a reserve player and a special teams player. Hailassie will have to sit out the 2020 season if he ends up at another FBS program, which would make him eligible to return to the field with two full years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2021.