By David Bradford
The day isn’t here yet, but the rumors of Butch Jones’ firing are heating up.
After four-and-a-half seasons and 59 games, athletic director John Currie is ready to pull the trigger and usher in a new era of Tennessee football, but until further notice, Jones will have his regularly scheduled press conference Monday at noon, ET.
Before we get into all the fine details of what the future holds for Tennessee football, let’s reminisce and look at the good (yes, good things did happen), the bad, and the oh-so ugly of the Butch Jones era.
Butch Jones’ approval rating is likely in the single digits, but let’s at least take the time to appreciate some of the positive things he’s accomplished in Knoxville.
Jones deserves credit for reversing the program’s academic fortunes, which were in the gutter upon his arrival in 2012.
In addition, the Vols were (temporarily) more competitive on the field and regained momentum on the recruiting trail. Because of this, the program is in much better shape now than it was when Jones originally took over following the Derek Dooley era.
No head coach has mismanaged the media in such astounding fashion. He provided us with a gauntlet of cringe-enducing quotes — Champions of Life, 5-star hearts, Leadership Reps, and countless others.
It all culminated the Monday after Tennessee’s thrilling 17-13 victory over UMass, when Jones read one of his diary entries to the media. In summation, he accused Knoxville’s fine sports journalists of being obsessed with drama and likened them to a reality TV show.
Jones hasn’t won a game after that press conference.
Ironically enough, Jones himself was the reality TV superstar. For as much as he despised the media, Jones ultimately dug his own grave time and time again by continuously dodging questions and providing half truths. The drama was also fueled by all the off-field distractions, most notably running back Jalen Hurd’s transfer during the middle of the 2016 campaign.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t get uglier than what transpired on the field.
Jones’ resume is littered with mind-numbing losses — twice to Vanderbilt, twice to South Carolina, 1-4 against Florida, a 41-0 loss at home to Georgia, 0-5 against Alabama, zero wins against the SEC West, and worst of all, a loss to Kentucky. He also missed out on a marquee win over Oklahoma in 2015 and blew a 14-0 lead at home to Arkansas that same season.
We also mustn’t forget the struggles against UMass, North Texas, and Bowling Green.
A 33-26 overall record and 14-23 mark in conference play speaks for itself. The experiment didn’t work and showed no signs of life, and for that reason, it’s time for Tennessee to move on.