Here we sit. A little over a year removed from SEC East title expectations and preseason whispers of a potentially special season, Tennessee is 3-5. They’re fresh off of a loss against Kentucky — something that’s happened just twice since 1985. In a year where Butch Jones knowingly had his feet held to the fire, he’s flopped.
I don’t have to tell you the numbers, but I will anyways. Butch Jones is now 33-26 overall at Tennessee. He’s 14-23 in SEC play. He’s finished with under five wins in SEC play in four out of his five seasons.
Tennessee football fans deserve better than this, plain and simple. For the most part, they pack Neyland Stadium with 100,000 fans, no matter how dreadful their team is. There aren’t many places that would do that.
It’s year five and Tennessee doesn’t belong on the same field as Alabama or Georgia. They aren’t even close. For a guy who came in touting “brick by brick,” year five should be his finished product. That product is 3-5 and totally uncompetitive with the teams Tennessee has to get through to win big.
That recruiting class that Jones and his staff worked so hard on over the summer is starting to crumble. As the team continues to lose, that class will continue to crumble. The recruits know what’s coming.
Taking the recruiting note a step further, consider this new rule.
College football has instituted an early signing period, starting this year. You’ll now see a big wave of recruits coming off the board before Christmas. That date is December 20th.
Tennessee plays their final game of the season on November 25th. If you let Jones coach out the season, your search will (officially) begin 25 days before that signing period. That’s valuable time that could be spent on the trail.
Tennessee AD John Currie could (and should) do everyone a favor here by closing the door on this nightmare of a season. By doing that, at least you’re signaling that change is on the horizon. It’s an odd feeling knowing that it’s coming, yet sitting here watching the season burn more and more, seemingly daily.
Is there an advantage to keeping Jones around? If there is, I can’t find one. I think some are scared of falling in love with an interim coach, but at some point you’ve got to try and salvage your on field product. Tennessee has a small shot left at a bowl game, but is anyone truly confident that Butch Jones can lead them to that point? You’ve got to wonder if a fresh perspective and a new face could at least provide some sort of spark to get the program out of this tailspin.
John Currie still has a chance to get out in front of this thing, though Florida may throw a wrench into everything. Officially start your search now, instead of waiting to see how games against bottom-feeder opponent turn out. What’s the point of waiting?
Maybe there’s a hold-up behind the scenes. Maybe the decision has been made and they’re just working through details. I don’t know.
I do know this.
This is worse than 2012 — and I surely hope this is rock bottom.