Last night after the Vols lost their seventh straight SEC game dating back to last season, former head coach Butch Jones was asked about the message he gave to his team after their humiliating 50-17 loss in Missouri.
The message is the same. We have two games left. It's all about this team and how we finish. - Butch Jones
He later added:
We have two games left in Neyland Stadium. How do you want to be remembered? How do you want to finish this off? You have to go back to work and that's all I can say. - Butch Jones
Flash forward a little more than 12 hours later after the game and Butch Jones was fired from his position of head coach at the University of Tennessee on Sunday morning.
But he wasn't fired in your typical fashion. According to Jimmy Hyams of WNML Knoxville, Jones was offered the opportunity to finish out the season but he declined.
Tennessee fires Butch Jones Sunday morning hours after loss at Missouri. Jones informed his staff Sunday morning. Declined to coach last 2 games. Brady Hoke is interim. Read my blog: https://t.co/DqfdmLOWh7 Edit— Jimmy Hyams (@JimmyHyams) November 12, 2017
The fact that Jones preached finishing the season at his postgame presser then did the complete opposite when it came time to back his word raised a red flag to me.
It reminded me of a teenager (boy or girl) finding out that they are about to get dumped, so they go ahead and break up with their significant other before they get the short end of the stick. Sure, it doesn't really matter since he won't be around next season, but it still bothered me a bit.
No big deal though, right? No one is perfect. But the story wouldn't stop there.
Three recruits in the 2018 class decided to either end their commitment with Tennessee or open up their recruiting about an hour after Jones was let go, but there was one big detail about one recruit that makes Jones look like he has no intention in leaving Knoxville on honorable terms.
According to a report in Orlando-Sentinel, Jones called three-star cornerback Tanner Ingle after he was fired and told him to "find a place to go, quickly".
Here is the exact quote from the Orlando-Sentinel:
“He said he didn’t really expect that to happen, but it did so he told me to find a place to go, quickly … and that if he gets anything he will contact me.” - Tanner Ingle, via the Orlando-Sentinel
Combine this with the hypocrisy from Jones's statements during the presser compared to his actions from Sunday morning and all of a sudden Jones comes off as hollow and fraudulent.
I understand that Jones has the upper hand when it comes to these kids and where they decide to attend school and I don't blame him at all for trying to set himself up for a soft landing - wherever he ends up.
But it also reminds me of when he bailed on the press conference after last year's loss to Vanderbilt and pretty much left the players to fend for themselves.
Jones' tenure will already be remembered with mixed reviews, but how he leaves the program will ultimately define him and right now he is not off to a good start. His decision making during tough times has always been questioned and this does not help his case at all.
In fact, it gives credence to all of the theories that when the pressure is up, he falls down.
If Jones continues down this path then not only will he be remembered as The Used Car Salesman Who Couldn't, but any positive that he brought to Tennessee will be thrown out the window. The negative always over rules the positive.
Details, accountability, and toughness? Jones has shown none of that since his removal began and yet again his words ring hollow throughout Knoxville.