With the hiring of UT's 24th head football coach Butch Jones, many Vols fans have asked the question, "How did we end up here?" There is no real answer to that question. The truth is, that question itself, can be interpreted in multiple ways.
Volunteer fans everywhere most likely went to sleep with a smile on their face the very first time they heard the name Gruden mentioned in the same sentence as UT football. Unfortunately, that was a pipe-dream lasting 16 days longer than it should have.
Rumors (or Grumors as they began to be known as on twitter) were everywhere. First fans heard it was a done deal. That wasn't true. Then we heard the money was there for Gruden, but he wanted more money for his assistants. Was that true? Who knows? The consensus on twitter was that Gruden had a memorandum of understanding in his hand, but Athletic Director Dave Hart wouldn't come off the cash for the staff he wanted. Only Hart and Gruden know if there were any truth to that. All of the Gruden talk was finally put to rest with Grudens agent using the word "fantasy."
Mike Gundy wanted a raise, or power, or both from Oklahoma State. This was evident when he "allegedly" picked Dave Hart & Co. up from the airport and entertained the idea of making his athletic director(and possibly himself) one of the most hated men in OSU history. Many Vol fans would have been happy with Gundy, but I believe a very small percent ever thought he was coming to Knoxville.
Next up? Charlie Strong. Now this is when it began to get interesting. Strong knows the SEC, can recruit, and has a defensive background. He was everything Hart said he was looking for in a coach the day he fired Derek Dooley.
Most fans envisioned Charlie Strong retaining Jim Chaney as his offensive coordinator if he came to Knoxville. Strongs defense paired with what Chaneys offense did in 2012 could have been a win-BIG now scenario had Strong taken the job. Strong stayed at Louisville so we will never know.
What we do know is that Butch Jones wanted the job, and Butch Jones got the job.
Jones brings with him a no-huddle, spread style offense that he himself describes as ,"Pro-style." He didn't want to call it a spread because people associate the spread with finesse. If you watch any film on the Bearcats from 2012 you will see an offense that played smashmouth football. Coach Jones offense uses a power-run game from spread formations. With the talent he can bring to Knoxville, along with the talent that's already there, it shouldn't be long now and the Vols offense will begin to look a lot like what the Oregon Ducks bring to the field.
Coach Jones acknowledged that if you want to be the best, you have to compete with the best. Right now, the best in the SEC is Alabama. Since 2010, Alabama has lost five games. In 2010 they lost to South Carolina(Stephen Garcia couldn't throw an incompletion in the first half if he tried), LSU(Jordan Jefferson), and Auburn(Cam Newtons comeback from down 21). In 2011, they lost to LSU and in 2012 to Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M. Those four teams all have one thing in common, they all run some variation of a spread offense.
Maybe Dave Hart did know what he was doing after all.
Perception seems to be that Jones is a lesser coach than Strong because Strong was offered the job first. That may not necessarily be the case. Jones is 2-1 against Strong. Hart may have offered Strong the job with the idea that Strong would retain the current offensive staff and keep Tennessee from having to buy-out all of those contracts. But again, that's something only Dave Hart knows.
Big Orange fans still have a lot of questions even now that we know who the coach will be. Will Tyler Bray go pro? Are Patterson and Hunter gone too? Will Tee Martin be joining the staff? If Martin comes, will he bring the 4 & 5 star recruits with him that he has been trying to convince to go to Southern Cal? Who is John Jancek and can he bring us a National Championship caliber defense?
In 2011, Janceks defense led the FBS in tackles for loss with 8.62 per game. They were 2nd in the nation in sacks with 3.46 per game, 6th in run defense allowing 96.23 yards per game. They were 20th in scoring defense (20.31), 9th in turnover margin (0.92), and 4th nationally with 33 takeaways. Janceks specialty seems to be coaching up linebackers. While at Georgia, Jancek mentored two-time first-team all-SEC selection Rennie Curran. Curran was a Butkus Award finalist in 2008, and a Rotary Lombardy & Chuck Bednarik awards finalist in 2009.
2013 should be an interesting season to say the least. Our Vols will have a new look with or without Bray under center. Coach Jones already has a QB on his roster that he recruited to run his offense in Nathan Peterman. We will know more about that situation when or if Bray declares himself eligible for the NFL Draft.
Someone once told me that it's not where your from, it's where you are going. And while we might not know how we got here, at least now we know where we are. Go Vols!