Jeremy Pruitt finalizing deal with Tennessee

BREAKING: Tennessee hires Jeremy Pruitt as next head coach

BREAKING: Tennessee hires Jeremy Pruitt as next head coach

University of Tennessee representatives led by Phillip Fulmer continued to press on with meetings Wednesday in NY in an attempt to resolve the Vols' nation's-longest football head coaching vacancy.

According to Mark Schlabach of ESPN, former Vol quarterback and current USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin isn't expected to join Pruitt's staff at Tennessee should Pruitt finalize the deal and be the next head coach.

ESPN's Chris Low reported Wednesday that UT athletic director Phillip Fulmer was talking to Pruitt, among other candidates.

Fulmer's efforts were weighted heavily, as it turns out, toward hiring a defensive-minded coach, concentrating toward the end on Pruitt, Georgia's Mel Tucker and Auburn's Kevin Steele.

Particularly at point in the ongoing conversations between the two parties are questions regarding Pruitt's obligations this month to College Football Playoff and Alabama's participation versus Tennessee's need for a head coach to hit the ground running immediately and without distraction upon being named. During the 2014-15 season returned to the SEC as a defensive coordinator for Georgia. In 2013, his only season with the Seminoles, he constructed a unit that led the nation in scoring defense en route to another national championship.

Has Tennessee's coaching search finally ended?

Not surprisingly, Pruitt took what was already an elite Alabama defense under Smart and helped it maintain its standing. He was head coach in Knoxville from 2010-12.

Pruitt would become Tennessee's fifth head coach since 2008, following Fulmer, Lane Kiffin, Derek Dooley and Butch Jones.

Saban is the best coach in college football, and even he relies on the deepest pool of assistant coaches in the country. The school and Schiano agreed to a deal on November 26 but Tennessee backed out after a ridiculous level of fan backlash against the deal. Dabo Swinney also owes a lot of Clemson's achievements under his watch to having two Broyles Award-winning assistants (Brent Venables and Tony Elliott) as well as another who eventually accepted the Arkansas job (Chad Morris).

Pruitt has been excellent at every one of his college coaching stops, and he has years of experience recruiting in the Southeast region. Those options all fell through for various reasons before Currie was sacked and replaced by former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer as athletic director.

Although Pruitt isn't the home-run hire some Vols fans will have wanted, he should have Tennessee headed in the right direction in 2018.

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