NASHVILLE -- With each stop the last 36-48 hours, with each media gathering, first year head coach Jeremy Pruitt got more comfortable. Pruitt was engaging. Simplistic, candid and genuine. Shaking hands and kissing babies is part of the job.
“For me this is obviously new. I got to do a little bit of it when I was an assistant coach. But the best PR we have got is winning football games in the fall,” Pruitt replied when about his role as a PR man. “I can come here and these folks can like me, we can talk and all of that. But we ain't winning come this fall or next fall, it don't matter how many times we come over here. I probably need to spend most of my time on the things that are going to help us win football games.”
In other words, imagining and branding is not Pruitt's priority or focus and that's how athletic director Phillip Fulmer wants it.
Back in December, Fulmer in a sit down with Volquest.com said part of his job to help his football leader was to eliminate as much non-football things as he can.
“This interview is not going to help him,” Fulmer said. “Recruiting is going to help him win. Coaching is going to help him win. Coaching his coaches as to how he wants it done is going to help him win. Building relationships with his players and former players, that's going to help him. My job and our job as an organization is to take as much of the clutter from him as we can.”
Don't mis-understand me, the first two months on the job has not been clutter. It's been pivotal as Pruitt and his staff logged mile after mile to assemble his first recruiting class. However, it's safe to say that Pruitt is ready to shed his sportcoat and cell phone for a whistle and some practice gear.
“For me, I got in this business to coach. That's the fun part,” Pruitt offered. “We have had to kind of hold our coaches back. I walked in there last Sunday, it was before the (official visit) breakfast and they are in there starting to do the ball part and I told them 'no we aren't doing that till signing day is over with'. When signing day is over with we will start on ball and that's what we are doing now.”
With the focus becoming more about ball, Pruitt's first task – meeting his team, assessing their skill to determine their best position and begin the development process.
“For us, we have to figure it out and we have to figure it out in a hurry. We only have four weeks I think till spring break then spring practice starts. We have figure out who's going to play what and kind of get that going so guys can learn what to do and how we want to practice to get in the position so they can develop as a player.”
And with that thought Thursday in Nashville, Pruitt finished his media obligation, shook a few more hands and move another step closer to his passion – coaching football.
“There's some guys on the team that I had met in the recruiting process a little bit. I met with everyone individually when I first got the job so the guys have really tried to help some in recruiting. But I sneak down stairs to take a peak. If I'm flying out at 7 in the morning Fitz (Craig Fitzgerald) has a group in there at 6. I might go down and watch for 15 minutes or so just to look around.
“First of all, I tell the guys all the time there are no perfect players and no perfect coaches. We have all made mistakes. I'm sure everyone around here as made mistakes. The difference now is with social media things get out there. We have laid out some things in house that he has to do. We are just taking it one day at a time and we will see where we go with it.”