ATLANTA — Jeremy Pruitt admits wearing two different hats the last month has been a challenge.
But Pruitt — the Tennessee head coach/Alabama defensive coordinator — doesn’t blink when he says he has done the best that he could.
The results indicate as much, with the Tide’s defense dominating Clemson 24-6 in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day, and the Vols’ 2018 recruiting class climbing to No. 16.
“I’m not tired, really, not tired at all,” Pruitt said Saturday at the College Football Playoff Championship Game media day at Philips Arena. “I probably won’t get tired until maybe February.”
The 43-year-old Pruitt is fully charged for Alabama’s CFP title game against Georgia at 8 p.m. ET Monday in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“I’m excited about the opportunity; I’m excited for the chance to finish this thing off,” said Pruitt, who helped build the Bulldogs program as their defensive coordinator in 2014 and 2015 before returning to Alabama to serve as Nick Saban’s defensive coordinator the last two seasons.
“When I go to Tennessee, I’ll be ready to get going there.”
The Vols hired Pruitt as their coach on Dec. 7 after an exhausting 26-day search that included Phillip Fulmer replacing John Currie as Tennessee’s athletic director on Dec. 1.
Fulmer needed only five days to determine Pruitt was his man after vetting several candidates, including former Vols Tee Martin and Kevin Steele.
Pruitt certainly could appreciate Fulmer’s efficiency, having had so much on his plate lately, along with some internal conflict.
“There’s only 24 hours in a day, and to me, it’s a little bit of feeling of guilt,” Pruitt said, asked what was the most difficult part of splitting his time between his Tennessee and Alabama responsibilities the last two weeks. “You almost feel like, ‘I’m sitting here working on this game, should I be doing something for the place that I’m about to go?’
“Or the fact I’m trying to recruit for Tennessee or set up or hire somebody, and should I be spending this 45 minutes getting ready to figure out a way to stop Sony [Michel] and Nick [Chubb]?” he said. “So there’s really not a good answer for that, but I’ve tried to manage it the best I could.”
So far, it has been good enough, as even Saban did attest.
Alabama HC Nick Saban praises Jeremy Pruitt: “I think we had a really, really good plan against them. I think Jeremy Pruitt deserves a lot of credit for that.”
— Mike Griffith (@MikeGriffith32) January 2, 2018
More SEC Country exclusive stories about Jeremy Pruitt
- Jeremy Pruitt reveals distinctive features of defensive blueprint
- Tim Tebow says Jeremy Pruitt marches to beat of his own drum
- WATCH: Alabama players say there’s more to Jeremy Pruitt than X’s and O’s
- WATCH: Pruitt shares Tennessee early signing class strategy
- WATCH: Alabama star defensive lineman says Pruitt pushes right buttons
- WATCH: Clemson coordinators reveal Pruitt defensive characteristics
- WATCH: Pruitt’s Tennessee talk limited but meaningful
- WATCH: Super Bowl assistant, Tide OC has high praise for Jeremy Pruitt
- WATCH: Can Pruitt’s defense finally slow down Clemson?
- Pruitt’s reasons for coaching Alabama go beyond title chase
- WATCH: Nick Saban shares rise of Tennessee coach Pruitt
- PODCAST: Jeremy Pruitt’s understated nature is unmistakable
- WATCH: Jeremy Pruitt: No interest in talking about dominant defense
- Jeremy Pruitt’s defense smothered Clemson, keyed Alabama win
- Alabama stock report shows Jeremy Pruitt rising after Sugar Bowl win
- Tennessee a sleeping giant with Jeremy Pruitt as coach