Fire Butch Jones if you think you can find someone better.
I don’t think you can find someone better. There is only one Nick Saban. The closest thing to another Saban that I have been able to find is an Urban Meyer, and he is closely followed by a Jim Harbaugh for now. After that, there is a gap before a Jimbo Fisher. They don’t make those kinds of coaches very often.
Butch Jones is a good coach. If the coaches above are the only great coaches, then Butch is a good coach. I’m perfectly happy with a good coach! Not-good coaches for Tennessee have looked like Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley. Kiffin took a program that was already in a little bit of trouble with the NCAA and made it worse. Dooley didn’t really do anything wrong – he just didn’t do anything.
Then comes Butch. He coached some boys and helped make them men. He did what he could to make sure they were doing the right things like staying out of trouble and studying. I haven’t looked at numbers of arrests, but it seems to me that there have been fewer during Butch’s tenure than during Phillip Fulmer’s.
Butch started recruiting star players. He recruited ones that he thought would fit his program – ones that had character and talent. Sometimes you get a player in that doesn’t buy into the coaching philosophy. One of Tennessee’s players who best exemplifies that is Alvin Kamara…when he was at Alabama. The problem comes when you have someone who doesn’t fit, who took up a scholarship spot, and there are not enough qualified young men to step up into the roll. With only being able to sign so many players a year, it takes a little while to stock-pile the roster like an Alabama – they have a senior go down, and there is a junior to replace him.
Then the injuries. I really believe strength and conditioning only goes so far. When multiple players all go down with shoulder injuries (like 2015), I understand how that can be strength and conditioning. When the injuries are all over the body (2016), I’m not sure who to blame. That feels more like we, as humans, are passing our limit of the abuse our bodies can take.
Our defense wasn’t supposed to win championships, not from what I was told. I was told our defense was supposed to beat Florida, which it did. After that, we dwindled down to zero defensive tackles. I’m not sure how many football fans out there actually know the difference between a defensive end and a defensive tackle – it seems like most who talk about Tennessee don’t know the difference – but they aren’t interchangeable. Tennessee had to interchange them, and look where that got our defense the last three games.
Would I have gone for it on fourth-and-four? Absolutely. Score a touchdown, get a two-point conversion, and then you just have to get within field goal range to have a chance to tie. That, I thought, was playing to win. If Butch had kicked a field goal and not been able to score a touchdown at the end, I bet the same people saying he made the wrong call by going for it would say he made the wrong call by kicking a field goal first.
So fire Butch Jones if you think you can find a better coach. Tom Herman lost a game he should not have lost to Memphis, yet he’s still heralded at the second coming of Christ at Texas. I don’t think Herman could do better at Tennessee. I think Tennessee fans, and any fan of a college football team, should realize that these things take time unless your name is Saban, Meyer, or Harbaugh. Butch is a good coach, and I wouldn’t trade him for any other coach out there – not even Saban, Meyer, or Harbaugh. If Tennessee lets Butch do his job, and think we will all be happy. If we let him finish what he is only starting at Tennessee, everything will be just fine.