ATLANTA — Part of Jeremy Pruitt’s first appearance at Southeastern Conference media days Wednesday was spent defending his interpersonal skills, which came under sharp attack the day before from a former SEC star quarterback.
Aaron Murray, who played at Georgia from 2009-13 and is now an analyst for CBS Sports Network, told a Nashville radio station that he didn’t see Pruitt, Tennessee’s new head coach, as head coach material. He said Pruitt was disrespectful to head coach Mark Richt when Pruitt was his defensive coordinator at Georgia in 2014-15.
“I don’t know if his personality is fit to be a head coach,” Murray said on 102.5 The Game. “As a head coach, there’s so many things that go into it. It’s not just going out there and coaching. You have to deal with front office. You’ve got to go talk with the president of the university. You have to deal with boosters. You have to deal with the offense, the defense. It’s not just going in there and dealing with the kids and scheming up. There’s a lot that goes into it. I don’t think he’s the right guy to kind of be the CEO of a corporation.”
It should be noted that Murray was gone before Pruitt arrived in Athens. Wednesday, Pruitt was asked about Murray’s remarks.
“I look at it like this: Fifteen years ago, I was a kindergarten teacher, and today I’m the head coach at Tennessee,” Pruitt said, according to the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “So you probably don’t make that ascension unless you know how to treat people.”
But ESPN analyst David Pollack, another former Georgia player who like Murray did not play under Pruitt, doubled down on Murray’s criticism of Pruitt on-air Wednesday.
“To address Aaron’s Murray comment, because I think it needs to be addressed a little bit,” Pollack said, according to SaturdayDownSouth.com, “the stories that I have heard and some of y’all have heard that came out of Athens – that are true, [from] coaches that were on the staff, some of the things Jeremy Pruitt did to Mark Richt, some coaches would tell you are the most disrespectful, most crazy things they heard.
“So, I’ll be curious to watch Jeremy Pruitt as he evolves with this relationship with Phillip Fulmer because Jeremy Pruitt did a good job when he was with Nick Saban – because he knew where he stood. He did a good job with Jimbo Fisher – they let you know where you stand. The hierarchy was very clear. How does he evolve as a head coach?
“He put on a good show [at the main podium at SEC Media Days], he definitely showed you what he has. I want to see if he continues to treat people in the correct manner, if he respects authority, because to be honest, the stories we’ve heard – we’ve all heard the same stories, it was pretty bad. It was disrespectful, so that’s what I’m interested to see.”
At the podium Wednesday, Pruitt was asked about his time at Georgia and relationship with Richt.
“You know, Coach Richt, you know, the things he taught you, one thing, probably the biggest thing to me is there’s more to life than football,” Pruitt said. “I know that sounds – but there is. And, you know, one of these days, that – you don’t care how many championships you win and all that. So I’m thankful for the opportunity.”
Tennessee plays Georgia in Athens Sept. 29.
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