The University of Tennessee (UT) football program was built brick by brick over the past years. As of Sunday, Nov. 12, the bricks came tumbling down as Butch Jones was fired after a loss to Missouri (50-17) that Saturday. Jones came to UT with high hopes of leading the team to a few winning seasons and a couple of bowl games.
There are mixed emotions in the locker room. Some athletes feel as if Butch Jones was what the program needed and others less so. There is a picture of senior tight end Jakob Johnson and Butch Jones on Instagram that simply is captioned, “Respect.” This is a good sign, considering the hard feelings that were harbored after some coaches left the university in the past. Other players like Khalil Mckenzie are frustrated with the results.
“It feels bad because of the transition,” Mckenzie said. “We have to finish the season out.” Despite the tension in the locker room, the players realize that the main focus is finishing out the season regardless of the coach.
“Most of us are focused on the rest of the season and, most importantly, school. Everything else will come,” said Linebacker Darrin Kirkland.
Butch Jones may have had a bad reputation as a coach these past couple of years, but he has brought wins over some great teams. Last year the Volunteers defeated the Florida Gators for the first time in over a decade. Also, he claimed victories over the likes of Georgia, Virginia Tech, Ohio and Nebraska at the Music City Bowl. Butch Jones has won three back-to-back bowl games for the Volunteers.
We can say that Butch Jones brought back the pride and culture of the Tennessee Volunteers. He turned a horrible team into a team that almost could have won out in the East most years. How does he pan out amongst the greatest UT football coaches? Well, he certainly can’t be The General Neyland or even the Legendary Phillip Fulmer, but he does rank high.
Some coaches at Tennessee cannot even be spoken about, but Butch wasn’t all bad. Butch Jones brought back the great recruiting era of Tennessee, as he ranked top 10 in recruiting three out of five years at UT. Butch Jones finished his career at UT with a record of 34-27. This is not the greatest, but it is above ½ win rate.
Who will be the new head coach at the University? Some sources say that it may be Jon Gruden. UT has had calls and visits from Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen and NFL coach, Bob Cooter. Everyone would love for Gruden to grace Rocky Top with his presence, but we will have to see where the cards stack.