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Charlottesville, VA Virginia assistant head football coach Bob Pruett announced today he is stepping down from his position and will end his coaching career. Pruett came to the Cavalier program last February as the team’s defensive coordinator. In December UVa head coach Al Groh changed Pruett’s position and responsibilities on the staff to assistant head coach/defense.

“As we all have to do in our lives, sometimes you have to stop and reset your priorities,” Pruett said. “I think this is the best thing for our family and best for the University of Virginia’s family, which I love dearly. When I first started out in coaching in 1965 as a high school coach, a goal of mine was to coach at the University of Virginia. It is an experience I really cherish. I really feel very good about my whole career and being able to finish my coaching career in the great state of Virginia with all the great athletes, all the great high school coaches and all the great people who are here.”

“Bob has had remarkable success at every point of his coaching career and has had a huge impact on the lives of many people,” Groh said. “He did a terrific job for us this past football season and in recruiting. Personally, he has been a great friend of mine for a long time.

“We tell our players that as passionate as we are about football that there are more important things in life and family is one of those things. Bob is a model of that belief by his choosing to end his coaching career in order to serve his top priority his family. We applaud Bob for his career and courageous decision. We appreciate him, we love him and we will miss him.”

Pruett joined the Virginia program after a three-year hiatus from coaching while working in private business in West Virginia. Prior to that, he served as the head coach at Marshall from 1996 to 2004, directing the Thundering Herd to a 94-23 record (.803) over nine seasons. 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 (now FCS) 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.
“I felt like I spent the most remarkable year of coaching of my 44 years this past year,” Pruett said. “When I got here this time last year, I sat down and one of the first things I read was an article that predicted we would win one football game. For us to beat four bowl teams, and the I-AA (FCS) national champion, made for a remarkable and rewarding season. To see the fight and the resolve that coach Groh put into this program, especially after the Connecticut game, and through all the adversity, it was one of the most remarkable coaching jobs I’ve ever been around or part of.

“Having said that, it was maybe the toughest year of my life,” Pruett said. “I had two former (Marshall) players killed, my best friend back in West Virginia is struggling with cancer and my brother passed away this year. My wife had two major surgeries and I’ve had a shoulder surgery. When we came here, we planned on doing this for some time. When you get to my stage in life, where there are many more years behind you than there are in front of you, you have to reassess your priorities from time to time. As much as I love our players and coaches and I love football, I think it is time to look at other things.”

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 of defensive coordinator in 1985 and later served in that same capacity from 1987 to 1989 after Bill Dooley took over the Demon Deacons’ program.

From 1990-1991 Pruett was the defensive backs coach at Mississippi, then became defensive coordinator at Tulane from 1992 to 1993. He served as the defensive coordinator on Steve Spurrier’s 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.

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