In case you didn’t know, Butch Jones pays attention to the opinions of fans and the media concerning the Tennessee football program. With the various viewpoints and two-cents given, it’s no surprise he doesn’t agree with all of them.
Jones spoke to the Knoxville Rotary Club on Tuesday about Tennessee football of the upcoming 2017 season. One of the topics he discussed was the progress the Vols have made since he took over at the helm over 4 years ago. “I know we live in a society of negativity,” Jones told the club, “People get paid for clicks on the internet. But I’m here to tell you, when you step back and peel the onion back, look at the layers, we have a lot things to be proud of.”
He isn’t wrong, there has been a lot of progress compared to where the football program was just five seasons ago. The firing of Fulmer, the hiring and untimely exit of Kiffin, and the dismal three seasons too long under Dooley were enough to set Tennessee football back quite a bit from where they once were.
That’s not to say fans shouldn’t expect more from one of the premier programs in the SEC.
Jones did plead his case with some facts, stating that the back to back 9 win seasons the Vols have had in 2015 and 2016 mark the first time in nine years that such a feat has been accomplished. On top of that, Tennessee has finished the last three seasons with winning records, something a Tennessee team hasn’t done consecutively in 12 years. And for the first time in 20 years, Tennessee has won three straight bowl games (all three have come versus Big 10 schools). He also went on to praise Tennessee’s recent success in the NFL draft.
The successes in the last four years under Jones cannot be denied, but there is no doubt that he has more to prove. Last season, Tennessee was on the cusp of playing in the Sugar Bowl, only to lose to South Carolina and Vanderbilt down the stretch. The foundation has been laid, but Jones and company have to start bringing more success to the field.