First, if you missed it, check out our recap of the Alabama-LSU basketball game last night. This was a HUGE win for Alabama as they continue the big winning streak in the SEC and will likely break into the top-15 next weekend.
Among those fired Monday - in addition to Pruitt - were inside linebackers coach Brian Niedermeyer and outside linebackers coach Shelton Felton, four members of the on-campus football recruiting staff, the director and assistant director of football player personnel and a football analyst/quality control coach.
The Volunteers went 3-7 last season. Pruitt’s firing means Tennessee will be looking for its fifth different coach since the Vols last won the SEC Eastern Division title in 2007.
As a result of the termination, Pruitt’s lawyer released a lengthy statement late Monday.
The timing of the firing, the statement read, appears “to be preordained and more about financial convenience and expediency than a fair and complete factual determination by the University. Moreover, it seems clear the recent leaks to the press are indicative of an interest to steer the narrative in a way that is desirable to the University to justify a decision likely made weeks ago.”
Hooooo boy grab your popcorn, because the Vols are in for a wild ride this offseason. Our own Erik Evans had you covered the last few days with some pieces detailing just what’s been happening while adding in our own personal enjoyment of the downfall of Phil Fulmer.
Obviously, Twitter is full of memes about this one right now. Just search for “Tennessee” and “McDonald’s” at the same time.
All I wanted was a fry from McDonalds and now I’m committed to the University of Tennessee. No interviews. Please respect my decision pic.twitter.com/eZp69ExzPl— (@ga8ornation) January 19, 2021
Fresh off missing out on the Auburn job and not being retained on Bryan Harsin’s new staff, Steele needed a job but had options. It’s why when word began spreading in early January that Steele was likely to take a position coach job on Pruitt’s staff, it didn’t make much sense at face value.
Why would Steele, one of the nation’s best defensive coordinators, want to take a non-coordinator role with a program coming off a terrible 2020 season and, most importantly, mired in an internal investigation? By that point, Pruitt’s seat couldn’t have been hotter after Tennessee chancellor Donde Plowman got involved and hired outside counsel to investigate alleged recruiting violations. Tennessee football looked like a dumpster fire, yet Steele was rushing into the flames.
Was Steele just trying to help his alma mater through a rough time like Phil Fulmer suggested? Or was it an opportunistic play?
And then, man, check out the continuing soap opera. Right after being at the center of all kinds of rumors of being in on a plan to get Gus Malzahn fired, Kevin Steele moves on to Tennessee... Only to find Jeremy Pruitt getting fired and himself being named head coach.
It’s most likely just a coincidence.
It happens all the time. Opposing head coaches will tell recruits that true freshmen won’t play at Alabama, which leads prospective student-athletes to ask questions about playing time and — cover your ears, Nick Saban — depth charts. But that wasn’t the case with Will Anderson.
“Not one time throughout Will’s recruiting process did he ever ask how much he was gonna play as a freshman,” defensive coordinator Pete Golding said Monday. “He wasn’t worried about how many linebackers were on the depth chart because Will’s the type of guy that’s gonna come in and bust his ass. He’s gonna work harder than everybody else. He practices like he plays. He’s got a passion and love for the game that I haven’t seen from a freshman.”
Anderson on Monday was named the Shaun Alexander-FWAA National Freshman Player of the Year after a stellar first season in Tuscaloosa. He started every game at Jack linebacker and led the Southeastern Conference and all freshmen with 7.0 sacks while adding 10.5 tackles for loss. His 52 quarterback pressures were second nationally among all defensive players.
Back to Alabama football, we got to hear some interview quotes from Will Anderson now that he’s officially out of his freshman media silence. Congrats to him for being named the top freshman in America, and we look forward to him working at becoming Alabama’s first true elite edge rusher in Nick Saban’s tenure.
Expecting Harris to try and attack outside the tackles with outside zone and buck sweep runs, the Silver Bullets did an excellent job of containing the Doak Walker Award winner. Harris was rarely able to turn the corner as outside linebackers Baron Browning and Justin Hilliard did an excellent job of setting an edge and forcing him back into the arms of Tuf Borland and Pete Werner, who combined for 22 tackles in Hard Rock Stadium.
But partly because of Ohio State’s relentless focus on containing Harris in the run game, the rest of the field was wide open for Smith and Jones to toy with the opposing secondary. Knowing the Buckeyes would play with just one safety in the middle of the field while the other dropped down in the box to fill a run gap, it meant that corners Shaun Wade and Sevyn Banks were effectively left alone on an island against the nation’s best player - regardless of whether defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs called for man or zone coverage.
Such a decision left the OSU corners in a lose-lose predicament.
If they played with a loose cushion, Jones would pull the ball from Harris on one of the countless Run-Pass-Options (RPOs) called that evening by Sarkisian, looking for Smith on a quick slant underneath. If those corners pressed, Smith would turn his route into a vertical one down the sideline, shaking the defender at the line and leaving them in his wake.
This is a really, really good article from 11 Warriors doing a film breakdown on just how the Alabama offense ripped the OSU defense apart. It’s obviously focused from an Ohio State point of view, but is a great piece of work with some nice highlights for your viewing.
Seriously, give this one a read. It’s worth it.
McMillon, fellow linebacker Dylan Moses and tight end Carl Tucker are seniors who have announced their decisions to enter the 2021 Draft. Christian Barmore, Mac Jones, Patrick Surtain II and Jaylen Waddle are underclassmen that have declared for the draft, while Phidarian Mathis and Chris Owens have announced their intentions to return for another year.
Here’s a quick update on those that have announced for the draft and those that plan to return.
The extra Covid year is going to wreak havoc on all of us bloggers trying to keep up with rosters.
“We are making the tough business decision to terminate Mark Ingram’s contract,” Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta stated. “Mark is a talented winner who brought passion, toughness, leadership and chemistry to the Ravens. He contributed in so many meaningful ways on and off the field, and we wish him the very best as he continues his career.”
In announcing the former Alabama All-American’s release, the Ravens posted a video on social media about his time in Baltimore, with an emphasis on the 2019 season, when Ingram’s infectious personality and Pro Bowl ball-carrying helped the team win 14 of its 16 regular-season games behind the mantra of “Big Truss.”
While it sucks for Mark to lose out on the final $5M of his contract, it wasn’t unexpected. That contract was designed to mostly be a 1-year deal with two years behind it where he could easily be moved on from without hurting the cap space too much.
He’ll now get to enter the main wave of free agency and will be looking to nab another 1-year deal with a team that could use an extra piece in a backfield rotation and might be looking for some veteran leadership.