Saturday’s Spring Game in Knoxville drew an attendance of 65,098; the third highest attendance in UT history and the fifth largest attendance in college football spring games this year. Not too shabby, right? Wrong! Times have changed in Knoxville. The Butch Jones era of politician speeches are long gone. The new era of shooting it to you straight and demanding more with Coach Jeremy Pruitt is here to stay. After the game Coach Pruitt had this to say about the team and attendance.
“To me, it’s kind of like our football team for the fans. The ones that were here, I’m proud they’re here. They’re fired up, ready to get going. And then there were some people that weren’t here, they had legitimate reasons they couldn’t be here. Then there were some people that weren’t here, why weren’t they here? It’s kind of like our football team. I think we all need to look in the mirror and see who we want to be.”
Pruitt is a grinder and he has delivered on his promises he made during his interview with AD Phil Fulmer. (He brought in all the coaches he said he was going to bring in and that never happens!) This fanbase has been beaten and abused in the SEC for the last decade. Coming off of a 4-8 season, Tennessee still ranked seventh nationally in attendance in 2017. But Pruitt is demanding more because he has been a part of Championship teams and he knows what a Championship program looks like.
Some media outlets and fans were so urinated off by Pruitt’s comments. (Yes, TB and Barney Boy, I’m talking about you.) I get it! You all have been fans; diehard, invested fans your whole lives. (Seriously, if you are a 6’5 man and proudly wear UT dangly earrings, I’d say you are a diehard fan!) Having the new head coach call out those fans who have continued to support a program that has been flat embarrassing at times doesn’t always settle well.
I wasn’t offended by Coach Pruitt and I don’t think he was calling out fans to upset anyone. I think he was simply setting the tone for what he expects out of his players and the fans. I was not at the Spring Game. My twin brother’s season tickets/seats were empty last Saturday. If we lived in Knoxville, we would have been there. I like that Pruitt held us accountable. I love a coach that demands more from all aspects of what makes one of the best programs in college sports. We finally have a head coach and Fulmer as the AD who are both going to bring back the glory days singing it’s great to be a Tennessee Vol.
Yes, the past years have been hard, really hard to be a Tennessee fan, but that’s all in the past. Pruitt is a new era. It’s a new year. New expectations start now with a new way of thinking at Tennessee. This is a new Tennessee program and that tradition starts now!