Bob Pruett Named Virginia Defensive Coordinator
Charlottesville, VA Virginia head football coach Al Groh announced today Bob Pruett has been named the Cavaliers’ new defensive coordinator. Pruett, a highly-successful college and high school coach, will return to the sidelines for the first time since the 2004 season. Pruett brings to the Cavalier program strong ties to the Commonwealth, the ACC and Groh.
“There is no one who is a truer, more proven football guy’ than Bob Pruett,” said Groh. “He has been highly successful as a high school coach, a college defensive coordinator and a college head coach. Simply, teams that Bob has coached win. He brings a great background in Virginia with relationships in multiple areas. Both coaches and players relate very positively to Bob.”
Pruett and Groh’s relationship traces back to when they first broke into the coaching profession.
“I have always considered him my closest friend in coaching,” Pruett said of Groh. “I slept on his floor in Charlottesville when he was an assistant coach at Virginia. When he went on to North Carolina as an assistant coach, he was able to afford a couch and I was able to sleep on that when I came down to visit and learn football with him. We have always kept a close relationship and relied on each other for advice and tips and friendship.
“I’m really excited for this opportunity. I’ve had offers to coach each of the years I have been out of football and to get a chance to get back together with an old friend, and to coach at the University of Virginia, I think that is just awesome. I spent 14 years as a high school coach in Virginia and I have always recruited the state, so I’m excited to come back. It is a chance for me to continue to be involved in the great state of Virginia and still not be far from home in West Virginia.”
A native of Beckley, WVa., Pruett most recently was the head coach at Marshall, directing the Thundering Herd to a 94-23 record (.803) over nine seasons between 1996-2005. During his tenure, Marshall was one of the most successful programs in the nation. His first season the Thundering Herd went 15-0 and won the NCAA Division I-AA national championship. In 1997 the program moved up to the Division I-A level and joined the Mid-American Conference. In its first six seasons as a I-A program, Marshall was 65-13, made six bowl appearances and won five. His 1999 squad finished the season 13-0 and ranked 10th in the final rankings.
Pruett had 14 years of high school coaching experience prior to his tenure in the collegiate ranks. From 1965-66 he was assistant football coach, head golf coach and head wrestling coach at Falls Church (Va.) High School. From 1967-69 Pruett was assistant football coach and head wrestling coach at Hayfield High School in Alexandria, Va. Pruett moved on as head football coach at Groveton High School in Alexandria from 1970-72 and then to Gar-Field High School in Woodbridge, Va. where he was head football coach, assistant principal and head golf coach from 1973-78.
His Gar-Field teams compiled an impressive 49-14-1 record, won three district championships and reached the state championship game in 1978. He was twice honored as the coach of the Virginia High School All-Star game in 1977 and 1978. He started coaching in 1965 as an assistant coach at Fairfax High School before moving on to Gar-Field.
Pruett’s collegiate coaching experience began in 1979 when he first joined the Marshall staff under Sonny Randle as the defensive line coach. He later coached the defensive backs and was the Herd’s defensive coordinator in 1981 and 1982.
Pruett joined Groh’s staff at Wake Forest in 1983 as the defensive backs coach. He took on the role as defensive coordinator in 1985 and later served in that same capacity when Bill Dooley took over the Demon Deacons’ program from 1987 to 1989.
From 1990-1991 Pruett was the defensive backs coach at Mississippi, then became defensive coordinator at Tulane from 1992 to 1993. He served on Steve Spurrier’s defensive staff at Florida from 1994-95 and helped the Gators to Southeastern Conference championships in both of those seasons. In January of 1996 he was named the head coach at Marshall.
Since retiring from coaching in March of 2005, Pruett has worked as an on-air commentator for ESPN and been a spokesperson for Friends of Coal.
Pruett has been honored by numerous organizations during his successful career. In 1996 he was named the Frank Leahy and Chevrolet National Coach of the Year and was a finalist for the Bear Bryant Coach of the Year Award in 1999. He was the MAC Coach of the Year in 1998 and 1999. He was inducted into Marshall’s Hall of Fame in 1999 and received the All-American Football Foundation’s Johnny Vaught Lifetime Achievement Award that same year. At the 2003 Marshall commencement ceremonies Pruett was honored by the College of Education and Human Services with its Distinguished Alumni Award. In 2006 Marshall opened the Bobby Pruett Training Complex that includes the Thundering Herd’s new weight room. In June of 2007 a football stadium in his hometown was named in his honor.
Pruett earned his undergraduate degree in education from Marshall in 1965. He lettered in football, wrestling and track while attending Marshall. Pruett received his masters of science in organization and administration from Virginia Tech in 1972. He and his wife, Elsie, have three sons.
Bob Pruett’s Year-by-Year Record at Marshall
1996 15-0 Defeated Montana 49-29 to win NCAA Division I-AA Championship
1997 10-3 MAC Champion Lost to Ole Miss 34-41 in the Motor City Bowl
1998 12-1 MAC Champion Defeated Louisville 48-29 in the Motor City Bowl
1999 13-0 MAC Champion Defeated Brigham Young 21-3 in the Motor City Bowl
2000 8-5 MAC Champion Defeated Cincinnati 25-14 in the Motor City Bowl
2001 11-2 Defeated East Carolina 64-61 in the GMAC Bowl
2002 11-2 MAC Champion Defeated Louisville 38-15 in the GMAC Bowl
2004 6-6 Lost to Cincinnati 32-14 in the Fort Worth Bowl
9 Years 94-23