Is it really the football offseason at the University of Tennessee if there isn’t a coaching search?
On Tuesday, it was officially announced that Tennessee offensive coordinator Tyson Helton would become Western Kentucky’s next football coach, beginning a coaching search for the Vols just days after their season came to a close.
This announcement came as a relief to a lot of Tennessee fans, possibly including head coach Jeremy Pruitt as well, who was reported to have not been happy with the offensive play calling multiple times this season.
Now, Pruitt and the Vols must embark on yet another coaching search with this one potentially being just as big as the coaching search last year that ended with the Vols hiring Pruitt.
Many names have already surfaced for the job, such as Hugh Freeze, Chip Lindsey, Dan Enos and even Jim McElwain. Regardless of whoever Pruitt decides to hire, he needs to be absolutely positive that that person is the right choice, because if this hire doesn’t work out, then what little patience Tennessee fans have may disappear.
The first thing that Pruitt needs to make sure of is that he can work with the person that he hires. As I mentioned before, Pruitt and Helton butted heads on multiple occasions this season, and if you’re Pruitt, you don’t want to get the reputation that you are hard to work with.
To go along with that, Pruitt also needs to let the person he hires run the offense. It’s no secret that Pruitt is a defensive guy, having coached defense his whole life. For this reason, Pruitt needs to let his offensive coordinator run the show. He should not try to limit him.
Under Butch Jones and even Phillip Fulmer, offensive coordinators were limited at times by the head coaches and could not really open up the playbook, leading to struggles for the Vols. Pruitt needs to make sure this does not happen.
When you look at all the candidates for the job listed above, you see one thing in common: Most of them like to run a spread offense. However, if you’re Pruitt, you might want to steer clear of a spread offense and these coaches who run it. You need stability, and changing offenses one year into your time as head coach is not stability.
This hire will be Jarrett Guarantano’s fourth offensive coordinator in the four years he has been at Tennessee. He has learned the spread offense and now the pro-style offense. If you’re Pruitt and Guarantano is definitely your quarterback for the next two years, then you need a pro-style coordinator so that the offense doesn’t change too much for Guarantano and the other veteran offensive players. That is a necessity.
You also don’t want someone who is going to change up the playbook a lot for recruiting purposes. The guys you have been recruiting for next year and the years to come are all meant for a pro-style offense, so if you change it back to a spread offense, then you will have the problem that the Vols had this year, which was playing guys meant for a spread offense in a pro-style offense.
This is a huge hire for Pruitt early on in his coaching career. It’s too early to say if this will make or break his head coaching career at Tennessee, but it’s safe to say that if he makes a hire that ends up falling flat, he could be in some trouble.
Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.