Tennessee lost yesterday in Gainesville to the Florida Gators in just about the most heartbreaking fashion possible. A game destined for overtime was suddenly over with as Feleipe Franks connected on a bomb as time expired.
Suddenly, Butch’s biggest supporters are out for his head. Social media was a dumpster fire last night, with about 95 percent of you ready to move on.
Let’s just say the narrative around Butch Jones changed last night.
- Wes Rucker’s column asks, “If not now, when for Butch Jones?” It’s a valid question. I don’t think most people realize that we are currently in year five of the Butch era. Has the program plateaued? It sure seems like it.
- Dennis Dodd — the same guy that said Butch Jones was underrated this offseason — even noted that this may be the beginning of the end.
- Barrett Sallee agreed with Dodd, noting that Butch “is in trouble.” Sallee also mentioned that “Tennessee is John Kelly, and that’s it.”
- SBNation even had a link on the homepage dedicated to how awful the play-calling was on that goal line sequence.
- You’ve also got your choice of “Fire Butch Jones now” articles, which just isn’t realistic. I understand. You’re rightfully upset, but he’s not going anywhere right now — nor should he. That’s a conversation for another day.
- You can even find some early rough drafts of a Tennessee coaching hot board.
Look, Butch isn’t going anywhere yet. I think we all know that. But the pitchforks are out. It’s not like this is the first in-game blunder that we’ve seen from him. It’s become a trend. It’s become expected. Tennessee is too talented to lose to a Florida team that was down so many players. They were superior and nearly won, despite of the play-calling.
But they didn’t.
I know the hot seat talk was exhausting all summer long, but it feels like the program has plateaued. It just feels like these same mistakes will continue to pop up.
Tennessee has UMass, Missouri and Southern Miss left — all of which should be locks. Games against Alabama, Georgia, LSU, South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Kentucky will determine Jones’ future.
It’s really hard to be positive about this team right now. Sure, John Kelly is a monster, but he can only do so much. Quinten Dormady looked lost on Saturday and our small sample size on Jarrett Guarantano didn’t look great. Tennessee isn’t going to win games with defense either.
The SEC East has been wide open for several seasons now. Butch Jones — in year five — still hasn’t been able to capitalize.
That’s a problem. Butch still has a chance to fix that problem, but his team is going to have to overachieve and beat a couple of teams that they aren’t supposed to beat along the way.
Unfortunately, Jones hasn’t done a lot of that in his career.