Jeremy Pruitt vs. Aaron Murray is the pointless SEC Media Days drama of 2018

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This is more a cheeseburger slider than a whole plate of SEC Media Days beef, but the oddest drama of that event so far is a mostly one-sided exchange between a former Georgia quarterback who’s now a CBS Sports analyst and a former Georgia assistant who’s now Tennessee’s head coach.

The QB lobbed an aggressive opening salvo.

On Tuesday, ex-UGA QB Aaron Murray went on radio and said a bunch of stuff about why he doesn’t think ex-UGA defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt was the right hire in Knoxville.

A partial transcript of Murray’s comments comes via Vols blog Rocky Top Talk, after the quarterback talked to 102.5 The Game in Nashville.

“I don’t know if his personality is fit to be a head coach. I don’t. As a head coach, there’s so many things that go into it. It’s not just going out there and coaching. You have to deal with front office. You’ve got to go talk with the president of the university. You have to deal with boosters. You have to deal with the offense, the defense. It’s not just going in there and dealing with the kids and scheming up. There’s a lot that goes into it.

I don’t think he’s the right guy to kind of be the CEO of a corporation. He’s really good managing just a defense and being a defensive coordinator. He needs to prove to me that he can handle the whole ship. For right now, I don’t think he can. We’ll see what happens this year. I don’t think it helps that he doesn’t have a lot of talent at Tennessee.”

Murray also criticized “the way [Pruitt] treated” then-head coach Mark Richt during their time in Athens. Murray was gone from the program by then, but he might be relaying second-hand accounts from people he knew who were still there:

“When he was at Georgia, the way he acted, the way he treated Coach Richt I thought was poor. He wasn’t as respectful as I thought a defensive coordinator should be to a head coach. That’s my thing, with authority.

When he’s dealing with the athletic director, when he’s dealing with the president, when he’s dealing with a booster who has given millions of dollars, you can’t go tell him to screw off. You have to take the meeting. You have to sit with them. Yeah, I know you want to be game planning and getting ready for the game, but you’re a head coach now. You have to do these other things.”

It’s not clear how Murray would know about Pruitt’s dealings with Tennessee boosters since taking the Vols job, but let’s put that aside. Murray is probably alluding to some reported disagreement between Richt and Pruitt in 2015, the last year both spent in Athens.

Various reports that year said there was friction between the two over how the program should be run. At one point, Richt felt he had to tweet to convince people he wasn’t about to fire or lose his coordinator:

Things worked out fine for all parties involved. Richt got fired, but Miami quickly hired him, and he’s done great there. Georgia got Kirby Smart. Pruitt became a national championship-winning coordinator at Alabama and then Tennessee’s head man.

All of that’s to say that none of this probably matters anymore. And to that point, Pruitt’s response is just to look at his resume.

Pruitt really did used to be a kindergarten teacher. He talked about his time in the classroom when the Vols hired him in December:

During his interview with Tennessee Chancellor Beverly Davenport, Pruitt told her about teaching kindergarten through third grade PE classes. He said he taught every child in Fort Payne how to tie their shoes from 2001-2004.

”I also told her that I started suggesting Velcro,” Pruitt quipped.

Layton Powell, 21, was in Pruitt’s classes at Wills Valley from kindergarten through the second grade.

Powell and his friends still laugh at some of the stories from those days. Like the time Pruitt pretended Powell was in trouble after kicking a soccer ball into the rafters and threatened to call his mom, sending Powell crying into the corner. Or the different twist Pruitt put on dodgeball by having no boundaries and calling it “Demolition Ball.”

”He would just sit over on his chair yelling in his Southern drawl with a bunch of kids running around the gym like crazy,” Powell said. “He was always playing around with us and having fun. We always had a blast. We were just little kids, but we loved those classes.”

Like most things said during SEC or any other conference media days, this mini-beef will likely have no effect on the season.

But in July, there’s nothing like some good, old-fashioned, uncut disagreement between two guys who used to be loosely on the same side of a rivalry and now aren’t.

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