ESPN’s Chris Low ‘I Don’t See Jeremy Pruitt Being Hired as DC’
The Alabama Crimson Tide football program is currently in a state of transition as Nick Saban looks for both an offensive and defensive coordinator. The Tide lost its defensive coordinator, Pete Golding, to the same position with the Ole Miss Rebels, and lost offensive coordinator, Bill O'Brien, to the same position with the New England Patritots.
Alabama fans wait with great anticipation as Saban deliberates and decides who the next two coordinators will be but no one knows the seven-time national champion better than ESPN's Chris Low.
Low joined Ryan Fowler on The Game on Thursday afternoon to discuss exactly where things sit as the coaching search continues.
"I don't think Nick wants to push this thing way out, but he's continuing to talk to people and having people he trusts weigh in on this process," said Low.
The most polarizing candidate for the defensive coordinator position is Jeremy Pruitt. He has a long history with the University of Alabama and has a familiarity with what it takes to work under Saban. The longtime college football reporter told Fowler that nothing is technically stopping Saban from hiring Pruitt, however the ambiguity of his status with the NCAA makes for uncertainty and risk that the program cannot afford.
"I think the thing to remember about Jeremey, and all coaches in his boat that have been accused of NCAA violations and been fired and a case is still pending, as it is with Tennessee, is those decisions whether another school wants to hire him are institutional decisions," said Low.
There's no legislation that the SEC, or no bylaw, that says 'You cannot hire coach X' if he's under NCAA investigation or he's been accused of NCAA violations. Think about the anti-trust suites that would be out there if that was the case. I've heard and seen that he's been cleared. Well, he's always been cleared."
The Alabama Crimson Tide cannot sit on its hands and wait to find out if Pruitt will receive penalties or not. Spring practice is around the corner and the staff is already making headway on the 2024 recruiting class.
So when will the NCAA make its determination on the final punishments for the Vols and Pruitt?
"I'll be honest with you, talking to people who should know, I don't think any decision is coming down on the Tennessee case for months. I think April or May at the earliest. So if a school, and we won't even say Alabama, if a school wants to hire Jeremy Pruitt right now, you're doing so with so much uncertainty," said Low.
"So, I guess the most succinct way to say it, Ryan is, they don't block you from hiring him. It's not like he has been cleared or hasn't been cleared, but if you're going to hire someone who's in the throes of NCAA issues, they make it awfully painful on you."
Can Saban afford to wait on the NCAA? Does he risk hiring Pruitt without knowing what potential restrictions he may face? The ESPN college football reporter gave his opinion on where Pruitt really fits into the 2023 staff.
"Things change, it's very fluid. I don't see Jeremy Pruitt being hired as the defensive coordinator, but it's not because Nick Saban or anybody there at Alabama don't think he can do the job," explained Low. "It's just, as I laid down a minute ago, there's just a lot of things out there, that I think any school, not just Alabama, any school would be hard pressed to bring someone in his position in as a coordinator or an on-field assistant coach. Now, it's fluid, things change, I know there's been conversation about it, but I think that's where we are right now."
If the Tide doesn't hire Pruitt, that leaves Saban going with a Plan B candidate. Low told The Game on Thursday that that candidate may already be on staff as an analyst.
Todd Grantham served as a defensive analyst this past season for the Crimson Tide and has extensive experience orchestrating defenses at both the college and NFL levels.
"He sort of fits that pattern that Nick Saban has followed. Bringing in guys who've been fired somewhere or out of work, bringing them in as an analyst and promoting them to coordinator,"" said Low.
As of Friday morning the defensive coordinator position is still vacant, no ruling has come down on Pruitt and people are still guessing which direction Saban will move.
One thing is safe to say, this coaching search has already been eventful, but when the dust settles and Saban makes his choice, rest assured ESPN's Chris Low will be breaking the news.