Alabama Football: Players happy ‘Rocky Tide’ coach hung around

TUSCALOOSA, AL - APRIL 19: Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart yells at Reuben Foster
TUSCALOOSA, AL - APRIL 19: Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart yells at Reuben Foster /

Can Tennessee’s head coach lead the Alabama football defense to a victory? Tide players are happy Jeremy Pruitt stuck around for the Playoff run.

First a confession. As an Alabama football fan my passionate disdain for all things Auburn and Tennessee is limitless. It goes back more decades than I want to admit. I don’t suspect it will ever change.

So when Jeremy Pruitt was hired by Fat Phil, I quickly concluded an immediate separation would be best. My position was not fed by last season’s disappointing transition of Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian. Nor was it moderated by the success achieved when Jim McElwain and Kirby Smart continued their coordinator gigs before becoming head coaches elsewhere.

Here is my initial diatribe, Pruitt as DC in Playoffs a Bad Idea.

Doesn’t everyone hate the Vols?

My ‘don’t let the door hit you in the ass’ harangue was 100 percent driven by hatred for the Tennessee Vols. Fortunately, I was not part of the Tide decision tree defining Pruitt’s exit point. Who am I I kidding? There was no decision tree. As it should have been, the sole decider was Nick Saban.

So Jeremy took off to recruit against the Tide. Then he returned to finish his job as defensive coordinator. Saban is content and the Crimson Tide players are happy to have their defensive coach in the battle to win another championship.

All parties describe the Clemson preparation as “normal.” Ronnie Harrison said this about his coach,

"He’s still all-in on this team until the season is over. So we just respect him for it and we appreciate him."

Harrison also said he had been kidding his coach and chanting “Rocky Top.” When asked to comment on Tennessee football on Friday, Pruitt demurred, saying

"I’m excited about being the head football coach at Tennessee. It’s a tremendous opportunity … But right now I’m working as a defensive coordinator at Alabama."

Pruitt appears sincere about fulfilling his obligation to his players. Coming up short at the end, in a national championship game builds bonds as strong those associated with a championship victory. A large group of Tide defenders has prepared for almost a year to earn their shot at redemption. Jeremy Pruitt is their leader. Nick Saban was right to not make a disruptive change.

Next: 30 Greatest Football Games in Tide History

Late Monday night or on another late Monday a week later, the outcome of games will become the final Tide chapter for Jeremy Pruitt. If he does well with the Vols he might be a future Alabama football head coach candidate. It is probably best I will never be on a future search committee – I would never hire a Tennessee guy.