Pruitt was hired as Smart's successor as Alabama's defensive coordinator, coincidentally after being Georgia's defensive coordinator, so he saw the work Smart did first-hand for three weeks.
"I think he's done a tremendous job", Smart said. "Without that, I'd probably be at UCF". He no longer has to balance two SEC jobs at once. Only transfer safety J.R. Reed did not have a connection.
Tennessee struggled through a tumultuous coaching search and an athletic director change before former Vols football coach Phillip Fulmer was named athletic director in early December and hired Pruitt from a list of finalists that included Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.
"I want a place that everybody feels comfortable coming to", Pruitt said. "They are insane hard workers though, those first couple days Pruitt literally didn't sleep".
"Some of the guys still hit me up from Georgia", Pruitt said.
The problem was exacerbated Monday night.
The Bulldogs after their hour media time headed back to Athens to practice in their one-year old $30 million indoor practice facility.
A dead period in college football recruiting ends today, which will allow Tennessee's staff to spend more time recruiting ahead of the traditional signing period that begins February 7. "Most of the time, my mind was thinking in Knoxville, I can tell you that". "Trying to do what was best for Georgia".
Pruitt's last season at Georgia was tumultuous with infighting on the staff during a 9-3 regular season.
Pruitt replaced Butch Jones at Tennessee on December 7 after an embarrassing and prolonged coaching search for the Volunteers, but he remained at Alabama to help through the national championship.
"All the time we've been at Alabama and all the time we've been at LSU we've always played the same system on defense but we've always been able to hire somebody who knew the system, who had been in the system before", Saban said. "That never happened. Never would have happened". Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel Alabama Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt during the annual A-day game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on April 16, 2016. "I don't think you can put no timetable on it".
Outside linebacker Davin Bellamy was one the players vocal in his support then for Pruitt. Associated Press Jacobbi McDaniel and coach Jeremy Pruitt celebrate an early defensive stop as Florida State hosts the 25th ranked Maryland Terrapins on Saturday Oct., 5, 2013. "I was excited. I didn't get a whole lot of sleep". He's on the other sideline. "But you've got to start somewhere, and we started last night".
The flip side to that was past year with Lane Kiffin, who became so much of a distraction as he juggled preparing the Crimson Tide for the national title game against Clemson after being hired to be the head coach at Florida Atlantic, that Saban cut the offensive coordinator loose between the semifinals and championship round, handing play-calling duties over to Steve Sarkisian.
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