ATLANTA — Alabama coach Nick Saban said Jeremy Pruitt did a fantastic job coaching on his staff, and reports that Pruitt was disrespectful to former Georgia coach Mark Richt caught him by surprise.
“I have never seen that side (of Pruitt), and it’s really surprising to me to hear people say that, because I’ve never seen it,” said Saban, who Pruitt worked for in two different stints, from 2007-2012, and again 2016-17 after spending two years in Athens with Richt.
That’s not to say that it didn’t happen, I don’t know that, but I can only judge people by how they treat me and the job they do with us, and Jeremy Pruitt did a fantastic job for us.”
Former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray started what has become the most controversial story at SEC Media Days in Atlanta on Tuesday with critical comments about Tennessee’s new head coach.
Murray questioned Pruitt’s personality as a head coach, and charged that Pruitt was disrespectful to Richt.
“I don’t know if his personality is fit to be a head coach. I don’t,” Murray told 102.5 The Game via the Knoxville News Sentinel’s Blake Toppmeyer. “As a head coach, there’s so many things that go into it. It’s not just going out there and coaching. You have to deal with front office. You’ve got to go talk with the president of the university. You have to deal with boosters. You have to deal with the offense, the defense. It’s not just going in there and dealing with the kids and scheming up. There’s a lot that goes into it.
“When he was at Georgia, the way he acted, the way he treated Coach Richt I thought was poor. He wasn’t as respectful as I thought a defensive coordinator should be to a head coach.”
Former Georgia defensive lineman David Pollack jumped into the issue on Wednesday on the SEC Now program.
“The stories that I have heard and some of y’all have heard that came out of Athens – that are true, (from) coaches that were on the staff, some of the things Jeremy Pruitt did to Mark Richt, some coaches would tell you are the most disrespectful, most crazy things they heard,” Pollack said on SEC Now.
“So, I’ll be curious to watch Jeremy Pruitt as he evolves with this relationship with Phillip Fulmer because Jeremy Pruitt did a good job when he was with Nick Saban — because he knew where he stood. He did a good job with Jimbo Fisher — they let you know where you stand. The hierarchy was very clear. How does he evolve as a head coach?”
Saban said he didn’t have any problems with Pruitt’s respect or job performance at Alabama.
“He was always very respectful, very loyal, hard working, did a fantastic job with our players, our players had a tremendous amount of respect for him,” Saban said. “He was always fair and honest in his approach in how he did things.”
Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer said he reached out to Saban during the Vols’ coaching search, and Saban fully endorsed Pruitt for the job in Knoxville.
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