Pruitt's coaching search parallels Propst's interview process philosophy

Pruitt's coaching search parallels Propst's interview process philosophy

Football

Pruitt's coaching search parallels Propst's interview process philosophy

KNOXVILLE — Tennessee’s coaching search to replace offensive coordinator Tyson Helton is in its seventeenth day.

With the search going in the direction of Jeremy Pruitt taking his time and discussing the job with a variety of different coaches, his handling of the search parallels how former Hoover and current Colquitt County head coach Rush Propst has handled interview processes.

At Hoover, Propst interviewed and discussed ideas and football philosophies with coaches even when he did not have an opening on his staff. The reason why Propst would discuss football and ideas with coaches without an opening on his staff was due to getting the interview process out of the way and that when he was ready to hire someone, then the interview part was already out of the way.

Propst discussed his hiring process of Pruitt in the book Fulmer Hires Pruitt.

“In 2004 I had a lot of people leave,” Propst said in the book Fulmer Hires Pruitt. “We started putting the staff together for 2004 and going into the season, I had one spot after I moved David Faulkner to offense and help me call plays. So, I was looking for a defensive guy.”

Propst had a defensive coach picked out, but that changed when Pruitt sat down for an interview and provided his knowledge of the game.

Tennessee Director of Football Operations Todd Watson, Photo by Dan Harralson, Vols Wire

Tennessee Director of Football Operations Todd Watson, Photo by Dan Harralson, Vols Wire

“I had a defensive guy picked out and me and Todd (Watson) interviewed him, brought him in and he was the guy that we wanted to hire,” Propst said. “At the time, Jeremy Pruitt was not in the picture. I didn’t really know Jeremy that well, I knew his Dad really well, but I have heard of Jeremy from a player perspective and I knew he was coaching with his Dad.

“Jeremy started wearing my phone out, calling me three or four times a day. It’s just like anytime you’re coaching at Hoover or at Colquitt County, you’re going to get a hundred calls a day, 200 emails a day, hundreds of texts a day. So, Jeremy started calling my home phone and my wife told me this guy named Jeremy Pruitt keeps calling you.”

Propst was not a stranger of sitting down with coaches he had interest in and Pruitt was one.

“I already had a coach figured out, but I called Jeremy and I told him I already had this coaching spot pretty much wrapped up and maybe I’ll have something down the road,” Propst said. “He asked if he could just come in and interview and I said yeah because I have interviewed guys millions of times because when a spot comes open down the road you have already interviewed them, and if you like them and have an opening then you got him.

“I brought Jeremy in and interviewed him and the other guy had already taken the (Hoover) job for a day and that was the weird thing about it. Todd and I were 30 minutes into the interview with Jeremy in the defensive office and Todd’s asking all of the defensive questions and I’m listening as a head coach. I went through the general stuff during the first five minutes, but the nuts and bolts of what you hire a football coach is not on philosophy it’s on how you can teach kids and how you can coach kids. That’s the bottom-line”

The interview went on with Watson asking more questions about the first day with defensive backs and so forth, and after 15-20 minutes, Propst looked at Watson and Watson looked at Propst.

“I’m thinking I do not need to hear anymore,” Propst said. “I got up and I told them when you get finished up bring Jeremy back to me in the head coaches office or the offensive office.

“They probably went another 30 minutes and Todd brought him to me and I told Jeremy that I already offered the job to somebody, but you are by far the best candidate without question. I told him to give me a day, a half-a-day, he asked ‘when do I need to call you’ and I said this afternoon about 5 o’clock.”

Pruitt then was hired on at Hoover with Propst giving him an opportunity to jump-start his career.

Propst will play for another championship tonight as his Colquitt County team plays in the Georgia state championship game at 8 p.m. ET in Atlanta.

Faulkner discussed Tennessee’s search with Vols Wire ahead of Propst’s state championship game, saying “sometimes you just have to take your time and see the big picture” in the hiring process for Pruitt.

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