On Monday at an appearance, Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt delivered a winding monologue that compared his team to a sinking ocean liner. It’s one of those quotes that makes even less sense the second time you read it—which is by no means unheard in Pruitt’s profession, whether on radio shows and in press conferences, at booster gatherings and sometimes just to a lucky and unsuspecting reporter.
In honor of Pruitt and the lost mice of the Titanic, here’s a look at the 10 most confusing and bombastic statements by college football coaches this century:
10. Herm Edwards, explaining his decision to run the clock down from 2:05 to 0:03 and kick a field goal rather than attempt a touchdown to beat Michigan State, 16–13, in 2018: “Most college coaches want to score. They always think points are the thing, that's how offenses are run. That's where it gets away from them, I think.”
Yes, Arizona State won the game, and it only needed a field goal to do so. And there are arguments for protecting the ball, sure. But, uh, points are the thing.
9. Les Miles in 2008: “When I wake up in the morning and I turn that film on, it's like reading a book and it's exciting. I don't read books, but if I read books it would be like reading a book.”
Eleven years later, Miles remains employed (he did have a two-year gap from 2017–18), so burn your books, kids, and find the remote.
8. Jim Harbaugh, on his radio show in 2015: “I take a vitamin every day. It's called a steak. ... I truly believe the No. 1 natural steroid is sleep, and the No. 2 natural steroid is milk, whole milk. Three would be water. Four would be steak. [Steak]...it goes with everything.”
The Harbaugh Food Pyramid has kept the coach alive for 55 years and counting.
7. Mike Leach, discussing the role of officials in 2007: “It's a little like breakfast; you eat ham and eggs. As coaches and players, we're like the ham. You see, the chicken's involved but the pig's committed. We're like the pig, [officials] are like the chicken. They're involved, but everything we have rides on this.”
As with most Mike Leach-isms: read it again, remain confused and move on.
6. Dabo Swinney, discussing anthem protests in 2016: “It's so easy to say we have a race problem, but we got a sin problem.”
Again, moving on.
5. P.J. Fleck in 2017: “This is what success looks like.”
P.J. on expectations: "This is what success looks like." pic.twitter.com/zoycVMhkEz
— Minnesota Football (@GopherFootball) November 7, 2017
Congratulations to Fleck for being the only coach on this list to confuse us with a prop.
4. Jeremy Pruitt, appearing at the Knoxville Quarterbacks Club after starting 2019 with an 0–2 record: “I think ‘Titanic’ came out maybe when I was in college. When the boat starts going down, remember all the mice running to the top, right? We have had a few that left our program, but you will figure out who wants to be a Tennessee Vol and who don't. I can tell you this: I want to. I know the standards and expectations that we have and the men on our staff and the character that we have. You will see the best of the players at Tennessee throughout the year.”
The mice drowned.
3. Swinney, on Sirius XM’s “Basketball & Beyond with Coach K” on Feb. 14, 2019: “I don’t know about walls, but I am kind of like Osama bin Dabo. I have to navigate my way through the caves and back channels to make my way through Alabama these days. They aren’t happy to see me, but it’s all good. It’s a good problem.”
Poor Coach K.
2. Nick Saban after losing to Louisiana-Monroe in 2007: “Changes in history usually occur after some kind of catastrophic event. It may be 9/11, which sort of changed the spirit of America relative to catastrophic events. Pearl Harbor kind of got us ready for World War II, and that was a catastrophic event.”
Alabama’s five titles since 2007 are only slightly less notable than how the years after World War II reshaped Europe and modern political systems.
1. Larry Fedora, discussing concussions in 2018: “I fear the game will be pushed so far to one extreme that you won't recognize the game 10 years from now. And I do believe that if it gets to that point, that our country goes down, too.”
I almost respect the esteem in which Fedora holds his life’s work.