It’s a cruel, cruel summer for Jeremy Pruitt and the Tennessee Vols as an SEC coach shades Tennessee. After the NCAA delivered a report outlining 18 allegation of recruitment misconduct, the details became fodder for conversation throughout the college football world. Most recently, Eliah Drinkwitz voiced his thoughts during an appearance last week on The Jim Rome Show. Bizarre, unprompted, completely lacking in self awareness-Drinkwitz’s appearance was somewhat confusing. Let’s get into it.
To begin his spot on The Jim Rome Show last week, Coach Eliah Drinkwitz started by spotlighting his own less-than-impressive record with the Missouri Tigers.
“I thought you were going to introduce my record, but with the latest allegations against Tennessee let’s hold up on what my record is because I expect them to vacate some wins and that’s going to help my record a little bit,”
I just…what? Did no one pre-screen this guy’s notes and remind him not to talk trash about his own shortcomings as a coach? Did anyone remind him that the Tigers have not beat the Vols in three years?
An embarrassing beginning sure, but it didn’t stop there. Coach Drinkwitz turned his attention to the allegations against Casey Pruitt, something we’ve probably all done by now but not on so public a platform.
She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not
Continuing his unsolicited remarks, Drinkwitz turned to the allegations of Casey Pruitt’s involvement in Tennessee’s pay-to-plan recruitment scandal.
“I’ve got to question my wife’s commitment to winning. I don’t know how much she’s committed if she’s not engaging in some of these things. I didn’t know that was fair play.”
Alright, we’ve all brought up Casey Pruitt’s involvement in all this. Especially as a former compliance officer in the SEC, it’s a plot twist worthy of the attention it’s gotten. And clearly, it’s not fair play; therein lies the reason her actions made their way into two investigations of misconduct. But, the investigation-and the actions that prompted it-are a big deal. The consequences for Tennessee could’ve been catastrophic for the Vols football program.
If you’re Eliah Drinkwitz that might even be what you pray for, the stuff of your dreams. For an SEC coach to make this kind of joke, though, is in poor form. It’s just not a good look.
Take it Back Now, Y’all
Drinkwitz switched gears, adopting the relatable-colleague-who-gets-it persona to finish out the throwing of the shade.
“It was a little bit surprising to see the in-depth nature of what was going on there but I’m sure glad that Tennessee was taking some ownership of it. And we’ll see what the results are, but it’s pretty interesting for sure…Pressure does crazy things to people. There’s a lot of pressure to win in the SEC.”
Yeah, this is all true. The nature of the allegations was surprising; it is great that Tennessee took ownership and handled their end of the business; pressure does crazy things to people, especially SEC football coaches. But the acknowledgment of these pressures is too little too late, because Drinkwitz had already come out swinging without provocation. This switch in gears is nothing more than backtracking to make the PR team’s job easier during the inevitable backlash of these comments.
Keeping it Real
Whether you are a fan of the Tigers or not, Drinkwitz is no better a coach than Pruitt was and really, he may be worse.
Self deprecation is a classic defense mechanism and Drinkwitz knows his record is subpar. Why else would he open an interview with jokes about it? But, here’s the thing: a vacated win for Tennessee does not equal a win for Missouri. Missouri has lost to Tennessee every year since 2019.
Drinkwitz was not named head coach of the Tigers until December of 2019, but the 2020 and 2021 losses to Tennessee were both on his watch. This means the Tigers lost to the Vols when the Vols were at their worst. So really, doesn’t that say a lot about Drinkwitz as a coach? Should the 2020 Vols not have been one of the easiest wins on the Tigers schedule?
Maybe Missouri has stuck to the NCAA’s rulebook and hats off for that because clearly, to violate the rules can go sideways quickly. But playing by the rules isn’t a free pass for a coach, especially in the SEC, to make light of his own shortcomings and to deflect with such a spectacular lack of self awareness.
Seriously, Drink, the irony here is everything. Maybe try winning games before shading other programs, especially those you’ve yet to prove you can beat?
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