Former Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson found himself in the midst of national headlines when he boldly proclaimed that new Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt’s team eventually would scare him more than Kirby Smart’s Georgia squad does.
Both Smart and Pruitt served as defensive coordinators under Nick Saban prior to landing premium SEC East head coaching jobs. And, like it or not, they’re always going to be compared as a result.
Wilson, who played at Alabama while both coaches were in Tuscaloosa, recently ruffled some feathers during a WJOX-FM interview when he seemingly gave the edge to Pruitt in terms of which had the better long-term outlook as an SEC coach.
“I think he’ll be wildly successful at Tennessee,” Wilson said of Pruitt. “I hope that he has enough success that he can come back and be the head coach at Alabama one day.
“He scares me more at Tennessee than Kirby does at Georgia. Georgia is going to be good, but down the road, Jeremy scares me more than Kirby at Georgia.”
Smart, who is entering his third season in Athens, Ga., won an SEC championship and played against Alabama for the College Football Playoff national championship during his second year as the Bulldogs coach. If Pruitt is going to beat that performance with a Volunteers program that went 0-8 in SEC play during the 2017 season, that’d really be something special.
During an appearance on SEC Country’s new Facebook Live show “Roll Tide Daily” with former Crimson Tide offensive lineman Mike Johnson, Wilson was asked to expand on his thoughts on the topic following some pushback from some angry Georgia fans and Smart supporters.
“This did get some waves and became national news pretty quick,” Wilson said with a chuckle. “But some were missing one of the key parts of the statement: long-term. I’m not talking about this year. I’m talking about long-term. I just think Jeremy Pruitt is going to be a great college football coach. I was with him at Hoover [Ala.] High School. I was with him at Alabama when he was the recruiting guy. I saw him coach and I know how he works with people, so I just think he’s going to be a fantastic head coach.
“I wasn’t throwing shots at Kirby by any stretch of the imagination. I was just saying, where he’s at, he really scares me at Tennessee. We do play them every year. Now, Kirby’s in a different stratosphere right now in where he’s at and where the Georgia program is. Again, the key term right there was long-term because I don’t know if Jeremy is going to be at Tennessee for five years or 15 years. I just know his makeup and what kind of coach he’s going to be. Maybe not this year, but he’s going to get that Tennessee program going in the direction they haven’t been in such a long time. And as an Alabama fan, that scares me because at some point you’ve got to revert to the mean. We’ve beaten them 11 years in a row, but a guy like him can rally the troops and circles the wagons and get them going.”
Johnson’s new show airs Monday through Thursday on the SEC Country Alabama Facebook page at 1 p.m. You can watch Wilson’s complete appearance here: