Published 11:35 a.m. ET ET December 7, 2017 | Updated at 8:36 p.m. ET December 7, 2017
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (The mission of Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt is to get the Volunteers back to the state they enjoyed when their new boss wandered.
Pruitt took over as Tennessee coach on Thursday, crowning a tumultuous search in which Phillip Fulmer He replaced John Currie as Athletic Director, Tennessee comes from one of the most disappointing seasons in history and has not won the East Division title of the Southeastern Conference since 2007, a year before Fulmer was expelled as coach of the Vols.
"There was a time and a place that the university was feared among the SEC teams," said Pruitt, who has spent the past two seasons as Alabama's defensive coordinator. "My goal as a football coach at the University of Tennessee is back to that point. "
Nobody fears Tennessee lately.
The Vols opened this season in the Top 25 but finished 4-8 for stable A record of losses was recorded as they did not win in the SEC competition for the first time since the league was formed in 1933. Those results led to the dismissal on November 12 of Butch Jones, who finished 34-27 in five seasons. .
Tennessee continued its poor season with a tumultuous search for coaching that became more embarrbading as it progressed.
Pruitt, who has been an badistant on four different teams in the national championship, believes he can get Tennessee back to the heights it reached in the 1990s and early 2000s when Fulmer was training the team. This marks the fourth Tennessee coaching search since the departure of Fulmer.
"Your expectations are not close to mine," Pruitt said. "I'll tell you that at this moment, my expectations are to win every game we play, that's the expectation I have."
Pruitt, 43, accepted an agreement for six years that will pay him $ 3.8 million per year plus several benefits such as an allocation of expenses.
He will spend this month working on his new job and at the same time maintain his status as defensive coordinator of Alabama through the college football tiebreaker. Pruitt said he would focus on pushing a Tennessee recruiting clbad that has been decimated by recent defections. When a dead period arrives in the recruiting calendar on December 18, Pruitt can turn his attention to Alabama.
Fulmer said he did not care about the fact that Pruitt would still be working with Alabama in the tiebreaker. He said that Pruitt's presence in the playoffs would show the Tennessee program.
Tennessee could use good publicity after what happened last month when the Vols sought out Jones' replacement.
Currie was about to hire Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano in November .26 before that deal collapsed amid public reaction.
Reports related Mike Gundy of the state of Oklahoma and Jeff Brohm of Purdue to the vacancy of Tennessee, but both stayed with their teams. Dave Doeren, of North Carolina State, accepted a new contract with Wolfpack after talking to Tennessee officials. Currie met last week with Mike Leach of the state of Washington and was suspended the next day when Tennessee is investigating whether he can fire him for a cause.
Fulmer took over the search and eventually concentrated on Pruitt.
"His energy and enthusiasm and his background and intensity attracted me a lot," Fulmer said.
Pruitt has been Alabama's defensive coordinator since 2016 after spending two seasons in the same role in Georgia. Alabama led the nation in scoring defense and ranked second in total defense last year. This season, Alabama once again leads the nation in scoring defense and ranks second in total defense.
"He is hard-working, dedicated and organized with exceptional knowledge of the game," Alabama coach Nick Saban said in a statement. "He is an excellent recruiter who does a great job developing players and earning their respect, he will do a great job in Tennessee and we wish him well."
Pruitt was also defensive coordinator of the 2013 Florida State National Championship team, which led the nation in scoring defense. He worked for an initial period on Alabama staff from 2007-12, when he helped Crimson Tide win national titles in 2009, 2011 and 2012.
His workforce approach earned him Fulmer's admiration.
"It's hard to be nice and win in this conference, and as you can see, the coach is not a very nice guy," Fulmer joked.
Pruitt's soccer record began long before his college career. Pruitt grew up regularly watching movies and studying the game as a son of Dale Pruitt, a veteran high school coach from Alabama.
"My other son is a high school coach and they grew up in the field," said Dale Pruitt. "We did not have babysitters, they came with me, I did not catch, I do not fish a lot, I'm a terrible golfer (soccer) to what they were used to, doing the X and O's and everything … That was their pbadion since they were very small "
That pbadion never left Pruitt and now he has this former elementary school PE teacher running an SEC program that needs a boost.
"He said I wanted to win championships," said Tennessee Chancellor Beverly Davenport. "And I said, do not worry, Tennessee expects you to do it."
More AP college football coverage: https://www.collegefootball.ap.org and http: //www.twitter. com / .com / AP_Top25
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material can not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed.