Bobby Bowden knows a thing or two about coaching. After all, he did win two national championships and 12 ACC titles during his long career at Florida State. So when the College Football Hall of Fame member gives praise to an up-and-coming coach, you should probably pay close attention.
With several fresh faces at college programs this year, including six new coaches in the SEC, there is bound to be a couple that will come out and surprise people.
Bowden’s favorite? Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt.
Those are some strong words from one of the all-time greats.
“Out of all these coaches coming up, I have a feeling (Pruitt) is going to do the best. Nobody’s expecting anything out of Tennessee, and he’s such a good coach. I think he’s a hidden gem, boy. I really do.”
It’s hard to decide what’s more surprising: The fact the 88-year-old Bowden chose Pruitt, or the fact he did so unsolicited.
Pruitt certainly has the credentials to be successful.
As defensive coordinator at Florida State under Jimbo Fisher, with Georgia under Mark Right, and at Alabama under Nick Saban, Pruitt is considered one of the top defensive minds in all of college football with his squads frequently ranked in the Top 10 nationally.
Pruitt also made a big splash at SEC Media Days, using a combination of directness and slight humor, to show just how engaging he truly is.
Of course, wins are what matters. Things really haven’t been the same since Phillip Fulmer, now UT’s athletic director, was pacing the sidelines from 1992-2008.
From Lane Kiffin to Derek Dooley to Jim Chaney to Butch Jones to Brady Hoke to a host of other administration problems, the Volunteers are looking for much brighter days as soon as possible.
And according to Bowden, those days might be just around the corner with Pruitt at the helm.