Tennessee Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt made a bold claim on Wednesday by telling reporters that he believes UT’s football team is 100 times better than it was at this time a year ago.

I’m sorry, what?

Even the most optimistic Tennessee fan can’t look at the Vols’ 1-3 start and a see a team that is “100 times better” than it was at this point a year ago.

I mean, nearly a year ago, the Vols were getting ready to beat Auburn. If the 2019 Vols played 2018 Auburn right now, I don’t think we’d see the same outcome.

Look, I’m not among those who think Pruitt is doomed as Tennessee’s head coach. We are living in an instant gratification world. And unfortunately for fans, there is no instant gratification when it comes to Vol football. Whether it’s Pruitt, or someone else who gets hired after Pruitt, it’s going to take some time to make Tennessee football relevant again.

I think Pruitt deserves some time to get it right. There’s not a better alternative (I think fans have seen enough coaching searches to know there is no magical hire that’s going to be made).

But I also think Pruitt needs to be direct and honest about where the team is. What he said on Wednesday sounded a lot like something Butch Jones would’ve said in the midst of the program struggling. And no one wants to sound like Butch Jones.

Pruitt probably made the statement for recruiting purposes. Which I understand. Recruiting is the lifeblood of college football.

Recruits, however, aren’t dumb. They know what progress looks like. And 1-3 with a loss to Georgia State is not progress. It’s regression. Now, maybe it’s because the Vols are playing a plethora of young players. Or maybe it’s because Pruitt’s made a couple mistakes. I’m not sure why the Vols have regressed.

Whatever the reason, Pruitt needs to make sure moving forward that he chooses his words carefully. If he starts getting compared to Butch Jones, recruiting will plummet.

And when that happens, it’s the beginning of the end.

Featured image via Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports