It is official. Butch Jones, his staff, and the athletics department need to stop talking.
More importantly, they need to stop listening to and reading everything that is said about them.
This is not a joke. The Tennessee football staff and the athletic department employees involved with it need to burn their microphones, delete their Facebook and Twitter accounts, listen to Songify and go full Bill Belichick.
That is one of the few ways to quiet an extremely frustrated fan base following a closing second loss to Florida. Keep in mind that was a game where the Vols had multiple chances to take the lead, but eventually squandered them to mistakes and questionable coaching.
I happened to be in New Orleans for the Saints/Patriots game this past weekend so I took in the first half of the Vols & Gators matchup at a sports bar near our hotel and then the second half in our hotel room as we prepared for dinner and a night out on Bourbon Street.
The wife does not appreciate when I spend a good deal of time on Twitter looking to see reactions from fans, so I was only able to fire off a couple takes and then continue on with our evening. The next day, I tried to catch up on post-game reactions and press conferences. Something caught my eye and it was something that I wanted to know the answer to when the inevitable question came up.
What I saw:
“It’s a scheme thing.”
I thought it was a joke. There is no way the head coach explained away a 1st and goal from the half yard line drive that ended in interception with, “It’s a scheme thing.”
I was dumbfounded, but I quickly thought back to the last four years of the Butch Jones Era and said to myself, “Why the hell are you surprised?”
This is the coach that in 2015 said you should keep a list of people that you think are against you in your back pocket. That comment came shortly after Jones got frustrated by a local radio personality who had previously reported on an alleged altercation between Jones and a player.
During a talk about then kicker Michael Palardy on Tennessee Sports Radio, I was co-hosting with Dave Hooker. Hooker said going into that season that Palardy would have three jobs that season, “kicking, punting, and… . ” I interrupted Hooker by saying, “and sucking at life.” It wasn’t a dig a Palardy. It was just a simple comment as I had been disappointed in the career at that point of one of the top kickers coming out of high school.
Immediately after my comment, we went to commercial break. As soon as the first advertisement started playing, my personal cell phone rang. It was a higher up in the Tennessee Athletic Department who immediately said, “We are listening and you can’t say things like that.” Keep in mind, Tennessee Sports Radio had no partnership whatsoever with the University of Tennessee.
I later made a bet on air, which I lost, which resulted in me apologizing to Palardy on air and in person.
A former Vol football player told me two years ago when he was doing an interview on local radio the Monday after a UT loss. He happened to be critical of Jones during that interview. He immediately received a phone call directly from Jones who shouted, “Are you with the media now or are you a VFL?”
This is coaching staff that following an article regarding a recruit’s “decommitment” and another’s commitment that I wrote during my time with Tennessee Sports Radio, called a VFL co-worker and yelled, “Who the f*** is Andrew Darago?”
Back then, I was no one. I still probably am, depending on if you like what I write here or what I tweet.
Granted, I have been critical of Jones since Year 3, mainly due to some bad losses and the coach speak he drops at every opportunity. The difference now is that more people have caught on, more people do not care about gimmicky catchphrases, and more people are willing to point out the lies.
Yes, the new part of Butch Jones’ media facetime is lying to the fan base.
Take a quick look at this article on our parent site. During the Indiana State game, former Vol Albert Haynesworth noted that the defensive line was lined about a yard away from the line of scrimmage. Many noticed the same during the Georgia Tech game, but most chalked it up to the Yellow Jackets being notorious for chop blocks. However, Jones stated, “We are always a yard off the line of scrimmage.” Five minutes of watching game clips proves that is flat out not true.
Tack on these comments from this week and you start to see a pattern. Houston Kress of Fox Sports Knoxville pointed them out.
Two years apart, Butch Jones has now explained painfully similar close losses to Florida in completely opposite ways: pic.twitter.com/apzTzbd4Bk
— Houston Kress (@VolRumorMill) September 20, 2017
Is that a lie? Perhaps. At the least it is a bending of truth to fit whatever narrative the staff wants to put out there.
This all goes back to the original point. Butch Jones, his staff, and the athletic department need to stop listening what is said on the radio and what is written on websites or Twitter.
As I said in the beginning, Jones, his staff, and the administration should go full Belichick. Mumble through press conferences. Say, “we’re on to UMass.” The catch phrases and clichés wore some thin two to three years ago. What people want right now is one thing.
That one thing is winning. If they do not win, trust me, the things they will read and hear will get much worse.