Here’s what you can say about the 2017 Tennessee Volunteers — they set records.
Not the records any fan base would want, though.
After losing to Vanderbilt 42-24 on Saturday, Team 121 finishes the 2017 campaign at 4-8 with an 0-8 record in conference play. Its the first time in Tennessee’s illustrious history that its experienced an 8-loss season and gone winless in conference play. There were also 41-0 losses at home, Hail Mary losses to teams just as bad as them, and a narrow, 4-point win over UMass.
Now, the fans can finally breathe again.
However, nothing about the 2017 season should leave the Vols’ passionate fan base feeling pessimistic about the future. As difficult as that is to believe, 2017 had been a lost season well before Saturday’s loss to Vanderbilt.
In all reality, it was lost from the start.
It was lost because Butch Jones compiled a porous coaching staff, never knew what he wanted to do at quarterback, and did nothing to fix a seemingly toxic situation. That’s why his players didn’t seem too bothered by his firing.
Is it embarrassing that Tennessee has a pair of blowout losses to Missouri and Vanderbilt on its resume, along with a rare loss to Kentucky? Yes, but the program needed to burn to the ground in order for the athletic department to make the necessary moves.
In a sense, Tennessee football tanked.
Now, it’s up to John Currie and his highly secretive coaching search. Seemingly every name has been thrown out there, from Jon Gruden to Dan Mullen to Chris Petersen. Despite numerous reports from an abundance of journalists, nobody truly knows who the next head coach in Knoxville will be.
Whoever that coach is, he won’t arrive to a dire situation. He’ll have a supremely talented quarterback in Jarrett Guarantano, who delivered a handful of beautiful passes during his turbulent redshirt freshman season. He’ll have a pair of electric running backs in Ty Chandler and Carlin Fils-Aime. If John Kelly decides to return for his senior season, then he’ll have a 3-headed monster in the backfield.
He’ll also have Marquez Callaway, Tyler Byrd, and Brandon Johnson as weapons on the outside.
The personnel exists. What didn’t exist was proper coaching. At the end of the day, it’s as simple as that.
If John Currie makes the right hire, then the memories of the 2017 season will fade away into obscurity where they belong.