In Phil Steele’s latest for ESPN.com, he listed 13 coaches who must win now.. or else. Naturally, Butch Jones was the headliner of the column, appearing as the main image of the story.
Steele begins by praising Butch, saying he’s done a “solid” job since taking over considering what he was dealt. We’ve touched on this a ton here — you have to keep in mind where Butch started when opening up the hot seat talk.
However, just as everyone else does, Steele points to last year as the one that got away. The veteran Tennessee squad floundered down the stretch, largely due to injuries. But 2016 was the year. It was the season that Tennessee was supposed to win the East and get back to Atlanta. It didn’t happen — and it really doesn’t matter why. At some point Butch has to make it happen.
Finally, Steele points to a 14-18 career SEC record spanning Butch’s four seasons in Knoxville. He also mentions that fans are tired of hearing how young the Vols are.
Something that Steele didn’t mention is a 2-2 record against Vanderbilt. Even the biggest defenders of Butch can’t dispute that. You can’t go .500 against Vandy as the head coach of Tennessee.
Jones joins Bret Bielema, Hugh Freeze, Gus Malzahn and Kevin Sumlin as SEC coaches to make the list.