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Tennessee is 3-1, yet Butch Jones is squarely on the hot seat

Talking UMass, Butch Jones and where we go from here.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Volunteers are 3-1. If I told you that a month ago, most Tennessee fans would accept that as a pretty realistic record. Games against Georgia Tech and Florida were considered toss-ups by most — which turned out to be a correct assumption.

3-1 is probably where this team should be, honestly.

Then why does it feel so bad? Because Tennessee looks dreadful. UMass could have very well beaten Tennessee at home on Saturday. UMass is now 0-5. They are considered one of the worst teams in the FBS. They took Tennessee to the wire with their backup quarterback.

In Butch’s words, that’s unacceptable.

Tennessee found a way to lose in the swamp against a Florida team that was down nine suspended players. If Butch Jones can’t win that game with an advantage like that, he never will. The Vols had an opportunity to take control of that football game in the third quarter, but refused to put the ball in John Kelly’s hands on the goal line. As I wrote last week, that one is totally on the coaches.

You’ve got to put this one on the staff as well. Tennessee was not ready to play UMass on Saturday. You can call it a trap game or a look ahead game — whatever. Tennessee is too talented to go to the wire with UMass.

The Vols have virtually no passing attack, a suspect defense and tons of injuries as we head into the teeth of the schedule. Tennessee is 3-1, but they could just as easily be 1-3. They could just as easily be 4-0. It’s a really frustrating spot to be in for Tennessee fans.

If things aren’t going to change (we’ve seen nothing that suggests as much), we have to ask ourselves some tough questions here. Most of us thought Tennessee was an eight win team, but even reaching that number seems like a stretch.

Anything can happen, but you have to count Georgia and Alabama as losses. From there, it’s anyone’s guess. We don’t really know who LSU or South Carolina are right now, but Vanderbilt and Kentucky look like they’ve taken steps forward. How many of those games can Tennessee win? I didn’t even mention Missouri or Southern Miss.

There are a lot of toss-up types game left on the schedule. To be blunt, you shouldn’t be playing toss-up games in year five against Kentucky and Vanderbilt — no matter how improved they are. This is Tennessee. There’s plenty of season left, but you can’t be very confident that Jones and his staff will figure a way out of this to contend for the SEC East.

This is year five. Butch Jones has his players in place and he’s squeaking by UMass at home. I credit Jones for getting Tennessee back to some sort of relevancy, but the evidence is piling up. He’s not the guy that can guide Tennessee to take that next step. I drew that conclusion after the Vanderbilt game in Nashville last year.

Unfortunately, Butch has done nothing but validate that opinion through four games of the 2017 season. I think you saw the fans make a statement today in Neyland Stadium as they flocked for the exits during a competitive football game. What was a pretty healthy crowd early turned into a spring game crowd after the 3rd quarter.

I hate that I have to go full #NegaVol on you guys just four games into my first football season running this website, but things are bad in Knoxville. I fear they’ll get worse before they get better.

A lot of you have jumped off the Butch bandwagon after the last two weekends. I don’t blame you. Tennessee deserves better. We’ve all been patient, but the dividends just aren’t there for Butch Jones.