When things start to go bad, people begin to point fingers. Despite his defense being the stronger half of the Georgia Bulldogs team right now, Jeremy Pruitt is finding a lot of fingers pointing at him.
Things began a few days ago when word came out that boosters are beginning to get restless about Mark Richt's stewardship of the program in Athens. Then former UGA great Fran Tarkenton unloaded a lot of frustration, saying that the coaching staff isn't "functioning properly" before singling out Pruitt for criticism. A big feature from the AJC today piled on with the following:
According to people close to the program, Pruitt increasingly has been the source of friction not only within the football office but throughout the athletic department.
Later, GridironNow.com heaped on its own report, saying "there is internal dissension on Georgia’s staff centering on" Pruitt and that he's "rubbed a lot of people the wrong way".
Pruitt was a splash of a hire for UGA, coming over one year after being the defensive coordinator for 2013 national champion Florida State. His pedigree is solid, having been defensive assistant coach for Nick Saban at Alabama. Georgia gave him a raise and extension over the summer, making him one of the small but rising number of coordinators with million-dollar salaries.
The AJC's report says that the Bulldogs' finish in November "will determine not only the futures of some of the coaches on his staff, but Richt’s as well". In plainer terms, a bad finish means that Richt will have to decide to replace some of his assistants or face the prospect of leaving himself.
Precisely how many assistants will still be around in 2016 is in question, but it sounds based on these reports that Pruitt won't be one of them.
UPDATE, 5:53 p.m. CET
And now there's this.
680 in Atlanta reporting Pruitt could already be out. And that there may have been physical altercations. Yikes.— Corey Clark/TDO.com (@Corey_Clark) November 5, 2015
UPDATE, 5:59 p.m. CET
Not to be outdone, the USA TODAY's Dan Woken is reporting on the saga, saying that AD Greg McGarity wanted to make a coaching change last year before the president overruled him. Wolken's sources also think that Pruitt isn't likely to be back next year and that Pruitt wouldn't be the only one not back.
UPDATE, 6:09 p.m. CET
Just so everyone knows, Jeremy Pruitt is our defensive coordinator and is in the office working diligently getting ready for Kentucky!— Mark Richt (@MarkRicht) November 5, 2015
UPDATE, 6:32 p.m. CET
FOX Sports's Bruce Feldman added some detail.
On Thursday, sources told FOX Sports that Richt is dealing with lots of friction inside the Georgia football program, some of it stemming from the old guard Bulldog staff vs. the new guard regarding many of the changes in how the Dawgs program is run.
Many of these changes -- from staffing moves to operational decisions to how the team gets ready for its games -- were pushed for by second-year Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, a Nick Saban disciple who came to Athens after helping leading Florida State to the national title following the 2013 season. Things have come to a head because the product on the field is struggling and there is frustration from all sides.