On the same day Alabama's Nick Saban openly questioned the criticism programs receive for blocking graduate transfers from going to in-conference rivals, his former assistant and new Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt took the opposite approach.
“You know, the big thing when it comes to guys that are grad transfers is if they’ve shown the maturity to do what it takes to get their degree," Pruitt said Wednesday on Knoxville WNML's "SportsTalk." "Obviously, I don’t think they would be leaving a situation where they felt like they could continue to have success. If they’ve earned their degree, in my opinion, they’ve earned the right to choose where they want to go by their maturity and the things that they’ve accomplished.”
Tennessee is one of the schools believed to be the preferred choice of Alabama grad transfer Brandon Kennedy, a redshirt sophomore who was listed as the backup center at Alabama's spring game.
Earlier Wednesday, Saban asked rhetorically whether the Southeastern Conference really wants to have "free agency" for some of its players. Saban said he supported transfers for academic reasons and has approved such transfers, but seemed to question why the SEC has a rule that lets teams block transfers if it results in controversy each time.
Pruitt, who was an assistant under Saban at Alabama for a number of years and most recently served as his defensive coordinator from 2016-2017, said he believes grad transfers should be unfettered if they choose to leave.
“We’ve had some guys that elected to leave here, and that’s their decision and we’ve supported them,” Pruitt said. “The way I look at it is, who am I to determine where somebody is going to school? They’ve earned the opportunity to pick where they want to go.”
Pruitt addressed a number of other topics in the more than 10-minute interview. Listen to the whole broadcast below.