Jeremy Pruitt is staring down the barrel, as Tennessee is suddenly 0-2 on the season following demoralizing to Georgia State and BYU.
The Vols head coach's whole act is in question now given that he was expected to make some major strides in Year 2 at the helm only to see his team look downright putrid at times. Pruitt has lost both lines of scrimmage against opponents that should have no business dominating an SEC team in the trenches.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Pruitt is willing to go to great lengths--and perhaps soil his reputation--to do so.
Cornerback Bryce Thompson was charged and eventually suspended from the football team due to threats he made against his girlfriend and school, which allegedly included "shooting up the campus." And Pruitt has now reinstated him to the football program.
Thompson also allegedly stated he would "slap the [expletive]" out of his girlfriend of four years after she found fake eyelashes in his room, a claim which was backed up by two witnesses. He even admitted to breaking a small gate at the end of her dorm hallway by ripping it off its hinges.
We always proceed on the side of caution, though Thompson is still facing these allegations and the revelation that he agreed to a restraining order in 2018 stemming from a separate incident with another woman. While he is surely innocent until proven guilty, this is now the second time he's been accused of threatening a woman, and frankly UT nor the police have enough evidence to consider him fully vindicated at this time. But clearly, with the full SEC slate still to come this fall, the head coach is somehow thinks Thompson's nose is clean enough to play on Saturdays.
“As university processes have progressed relating to Bryce Thompson, we’ve all taken this situation very seriously," Pruitt said in a statement. "I believe Bryce can grow by following the plan the university has put in place for him. As a result, I am allowing him to return to practice.”
Thompson is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 23 -- two days after their annual rivalry game against Florida -- meaning the Vols couldn't even wait two weeks until his name was (potentially) cleared to make this decision. Pruitt ought to know better than to pull the trigger on such a controversial move.
But, of course, that would mean the 2018 FWAA Freshman All-American would miss two critical upcoming games against Chattanooga and the Gators. With Pruitt's job potentially on the line, he had to call in the reinforcements.
However controversial they may be.