NCAA Football

Nick Saban is pushing Jeremy Pruitt as Alabama continues its search for its next defensive coordinator

Nick Saban is pushing Jeremy Pruitt as Alabama continues its search for its next defensive coordinator

Alabama coach Nick Saban has reached out to former Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt about the Crimson Tide defensive coordinator vacancy, sources tell CBS Sports. No offer is believed to have been made at this time, and Alabama would not comment on Pruitt’s candidacy when reached for comment.

Sources indicate Pruitt will face a strong chance of being hired by the Tide as the subject of an ongoing NCAA investigation. He was fired at Tennessee two years ago when the NCAA charged the Volunteers with 18 Level I violations.Level I violations are the most serious on the NCAA’s scale of violations.

It was widely believed that Pruitt would be involved in the Saban search to replace Pete Golding, who left for the same position at Ole Miss earlier this month. Golding was not expected to be retained by Alabama.

Pruitt’s candidacy is in doubt as it is unclear whether he will be allowed to take the job if offered.

SEC Bylaw requires any SEC school that is “considering the possibility of employing an individual … who has engaged in activities that have resulted or may result in a Level I, Level II, Level III, or serious violation” that the president or the Chancellor ‘consulted’ directly with the Commissioner before offering the person the job.’

While the language does not directly disqualify Pruitt, Alabama must consult with SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey before making the hire.

“We have a specific bylaw that sets out the need for consultation,” Sankey told reporters earlier this month. “It’s not an approval process. Our campuses — despite any mythology — make their own staffing decisions. But we do offer, for any hiring decision, here’s a background story from a retention perspective.”

Auburn hired Liberty coach Hugh Freeze in late November. Freese was the coach at Ole Miss when the program was banned for two years for what the NCAA called an “unfettered culture of boosterism in football recruiting.”

“Hugh got the outcome of the misconduct case,” Sankey added, clarifying how Freeze’s case may differ from others that may be at the center of the investigation. “We have informed the administration of Auburn University and they are making such decisions. It is not an endorsement or disapproval. In fact, it is compliance with the regulations that we have established, so there is transparency, there is a clear understanding of the track record and there is an oversight plan, so we will not have these problems in the future.”

Despite going 16-19 in three seasons at Tennessee, Pruitt is regarded as one of the top quarterbacks in the country. He has extensive experience both in the SEC and with Saban, where he was part of four national championships in eight years with his former boss as director of player development (2007-09), defensive backs coach (2010-12) and defensive coordinator (2016). -17).

The NCAA alleges that some Tennessee players and their families received about $60,000 in cash and gifts provided by Pruitt, his wife and Vols assistant coaches. Pruitt is accused of failing to foster a climate of compliance and oversight of the football staff from 2018-21, and the university is accused of failing to oversee their recruiting. Tennessee was not found to lack institutional oversight, but could still face serious penalties.

Other coaches have recently been hired despite NCAA baggage. Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl was fired under an NCAA order for alleged violations at Tennessee. Xavier hired basketball coach Sean Miller last year while his former program, Arizona, remains under scrutiny from the NCAA for alleged violations stemming from the FBI’s investigation into college basketball that began in 2017. Miller previously coached Xavier from 2004-09.

A show cause penalty does not prohibit a coach from being hired, but is considered a scarlet letter in the industry. Any school that hires a coach with that designation should contact the NCAA to explain why.

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