Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt said he was not seeking preferential treatment from university police when they arrested linebacker Jeremy Banks for having a warrant stemming from a previous traffic citation, but rather was upset about not knowing that the warrant existed in the first place.
Pruitt, whose conversation with police on Sept. 15 was recorded, is heard asking whether Banks needed to be arrested because of the warrant. The officer explained that he was legally obligated to do so, and Pruitt said, "This is the silliest s--- I've ever seen in my life" and "I've worked at four places, and I ain't ever had no crap like this except for here, because the people usually say, 'Hey, something's not right here.'"
Pruitt was asked during the SEC teleconference on Wednesday whether he had experienced police cutting a break to players in his previous four jobs.
"No, absolutely not," Pruitt said. "There's no place I've ever coached where anybody has cut anybody a break. The point was: the warrant was issued and had been issued for five weeks or four weeks there, and I wasn't aware of it. And that's something that we have to do a better job, to focus on our players so you don't have a speeding ticket or anything that turns into something like this. So we have to do a better job as a staff to know what's going on and that's something we have to have a relationship to get it figured out."
Pruitt said he was woken up by the call at 3:30 a.m. and had "no idea" who he was speaking to for the first few minutes.
"And by the time I got it figured out, um, there was obviously some confusion because it was late," Pruitt said. "But I appreciate the officer talking to me and doing his job."
The video of the arrest, which was obtained by news station WBIR, showed Banks saying he should have run from the police and that, "where I'm from, we shoot at cops."
During the ride to jail, Banks is also heard saying he'd never met police officers "as nice as y'all."
The sophomore linebacker from Cordova, Tennessee, was pulled over for making an illegal U-turn when the officer discovered a warrant for Banks' having failed to appear in court on a July misdemeanor citation for driving with a suspended license. He was booked and released on $500 bond.
According to the Knoxville News, Banks' playing time was limited against Florida after his arrest.
"Jeremy's comments and behavior were unacceptable," Pruitt said Wednesday, "and we've addressed the matter internally."
Tennessee, which fell to 1-3 after a loss to Florida on Sept. 21, hosts No. 3 Georgia on Saturday.