You might call Casey Pruitt a cheater. I call her a coach's perfect wife | Adams

John Adams
Knoxville News Sentinel

I always thought Barbara Dooley was the perfect wife for a college football coach. But that was before I read the list of Tennessee football's recruiting violations under former coach Jeremy Pruitt.

Barbara is the wife of former Georgia coach Vince Dooley and the mother of former UT football coach Derek Dooley. She's smart, witty and charming. She's also a great interview.

But as far as I know, she never paid a college player's car note.

Casey Pruitt, Jeremy's wife, gave a UT player $12,500 in cash for car payments, and $3,000 in cash for rent payments for a player and his mother, according to the NCAA, which has charged the Vols with 18 Level 1 violations.

You might find it repugnant a coach's wife would be involved in a cheating scandal. I find it heartwarming.

Isn't a marriage supposed to be an equal partnership? 

I can imagine the wedding vows for Jeremy and Casey. Something like: "I vow never to cheat on you but to always cheat with you."

Somebody should write a country song about this. Or maybe, Randy Travis could just add another verse to "Reasons to Cheat" that includes football recruiting.

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WHAT'S NEXT:What Tennessee football and former coach Jeremy Pruitt could get in NCAA penalties

Let other coaches' wives prepare meals for a team dinner or socialize with a recruit's parents on an official visit. Casey was fighting on the front line with her husband. She might have strayed outside the NCAA rules, but her heart was in the right place, beating in sync with Jeremy's as they tried to lift the Vols into the SEC's upper echelon.

Call her a cheater if you want. I call her ahead of her time since the NCAA now allows players to make money off their name, image and likeness. If Jeremy can't get another coaching job, Casey can support the family by working for a sports collective, which connects recruits with schools.

Casey's involvement at Tennessee chips away at the outdated perception football is strictly a man's world. If a producer made a movie about this, Tennessee Chancellor Donde Plowman would get star billing. But Casey also would deserve her name on the marquee.

Casey Pruitt at a press conference to introduce her husband, Jeremy Pruitt, as head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers football team in the Peyton Manning Locker Complex at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville on Dec. 7, 2017.

Plowman ordered an internal investigation of UT's football program that proved the Vols were guilty of more than an inadequate offense. Once the investigation concluded Pruitt's program had been as bad behind the scenes as in public view, she cleaned house. If not for her actions, the Vols would be facing severe penalties from the NCAA.

So, include Plowman among those who gave their all for Tennessee. But don't forget about Casey, who apparently realized – left to his own devices – Jeremy would coach the family into unemployment.

TOPPMEYER:Tennessee football hopes NCAA is merciful. Remain wary of the punishment, though 

As immersed in the football program as Casey was, former athletics director Phillip Fulmer should have given her an office. I guess that was one of his 500 or so slip-ups. He obviously didn't understand how crucial Casey was to the football operation. She probably worked more hours than he did – if you discount the time he spent pretending to be an offensive line coach.

Casey was a car dealer, a banker, and even a realtor of sorts if you believe the NCAA report that she arranged for a real estate agent to meet with a recruit's family.

Despite all her multitasking, she didn't even get paid. Fulmer made more than $1 million a year overseeing the football program (insert your own punch line). Maybe, Casey should have been the AD.

My guess is we haven't heard the last of Casey and Jeremy. He has said he looks forward to telling his side of the story.

Perhaps, his story will be that Casey orchestrated the whole shebang. After all, the NCAA doesn't punish a coach's wife with a show-cause penalty.

If the NCAA doesn't buy that explanation, Jeremy might have to settle for a high school coaching job. If so, he won't have to look beyond his home to find someone capable of heading up the program's booster club. 

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or john.adams@knoxnews.com. Follow him at: twitter.com/johnadamskns.