Georgia football and Jeremy Pruitt: love lost

Georgia football (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Georgia football (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

The Tennessee and Georgia football programs are two ships heading in opposite directions tugging on the long rope of rivalry. That rope is a little coarser this year than usual.

The Georgia football team welcomes head coach Jeremy Pruitt and his Tennessee Volunteers back to Sanford Stadium Saturday.  Pruitt is also the former defensive coordinator of the Dawgs and there will be lots of hugs at midfield after the game.


Georgia wants to kick Pruitt and his Volunteers in the butt and run them out of town on a rail.

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Player loyalty or keeping up appearances?

The Georgia football players who played for Pruitt when he was an assistant to Mark Richt sweet talked Pruitt this week.

“He’s hard, just like Kirby Smart , and that’s what we needed as a coach,” said Georgia center Lamont Gaillard to Dawgnations Mike Griffith this week .

“Great coach, players’ coach, always stuck up for his guys, knew his defenses really well, that’s the impression I got from him,” said linebacker Natrez Patrick.

Linebacker Juwan Taylor agreed. “It was a sad day [when Pruitt left,] but we were happy for him that he got an opportunity.”

Maybe these Dawgs are loyal, maybe they love him, maybe they don’t want to provide bulletin board material.

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Former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray apparently owns none of those motivations.

“I don’t know if his personality is fit to be a head coach. I don’t,” Murray told the radio station 102.5 The Game in July. “I don’t think he’s the right guy to kind of be the CEO of a corporation.”

There seemed to be more to Murray’s critique, however.

“When he was at Georgia, the way he acted, the way he treated Coach Richt I thought was poor,” Murray continued.  “He wasn’t as respectful as I thought a defensive coordinator should be to a head coach.”

Now we’re getting somewhere.

“When he’s dealing with the athletic director, when he’s dealing with the president, when he’s dealing with a booster who has given millions of dollars, you can’t go tell him to screw off. You have to take the meeting.”

Pruitt responded the next day.

“Fifteen years ago I was a kindergarten teacher and now I’m the head coach at Tennessee,” Pruitt told reporters at SEC media days.

“You probably don’t make that ascension without knowing how to treat people.”

The cap toss heard around Rocky Top

Maybe, but then there was this display last winter by Quay Walker, then an elite high school linebacker who had been considering Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee.

Walker’s cap toss certainly had some energy behind it. The rumored reason is that when Walker called to tell Pruitt he would be signing with Georgia, Jeremy Pruitt hung up on him.,

It doesn’t really matter now what the reason. What matters is Georgia football fans that stick around until the end of the game will have their binoculars on number 25.

Next. Dawgs win and there's pelnty of blame to go around. dark

Tennessee wears orange and is an SEC East rival. That’s enough to get the Bulldog blood pumping. Multiply that by the Jeremy Pruitt factor and the game becomes more than an athletic contest for the fans. With Georgia football a 33 point favorite, it could make the game at least interesting.