The Tennessee Vols could be on the cusp of firing head coach Butch Jones, but is that a good idea?
Immediately after the Tennessee Vols lost to the Florida Gators, I said Butch Jones should be fired.
A week later, I still don’t feel like Jones is the coach that will lead Tennessee to a national championship, or even a SEC championship, but I’m starting to wonder what would actually come from firing him.
The day after the Florida loss, I put together a list of five coaches that I think would be great hires for the Vols.
But the sad truth is we can pretty much rule out three of those coaches out of the gate.
I wrote on Friday about how I don’t believe Bob Stoops will return to coaching.
The other two coaches that I think would do great at Tennessee are James Franklin and Dan Mullen. But I seriously doubt either one of those guys are leaving their current schools.
Clearly it would be crazy for Franklin to leave Penn State. He has the Nittany Lions in the top five. Penn State is a prestigious program in its own right, so why would he leave there for a program that’s down? The idea that coaches want to “prove themselves in the SEC” should be dismissed.
And at this point, I’m not sure Dan Mullen is ever leaving Mississippi State. He makes plenty of money there, why would he leave? His job is as secure as any coach in the nation. I would honestly be shocked if he’s not in Starkville next season.
So who does that leave?
Well from the list of five, it leaves Les Miles and Chip Kelly. I think both of those guys are realistic options. Kelly definitely wants to return to coaching, and he’ll return to the college ranks. If Butch Jones is fired, Tennessee will be the best available job next season, so it wouldn’t shock me if Kelly were to land in Knoxville. But it’s still a bit of a long shot.
The ugly truth is that big time schools are forced to replace coaches all the time. And rarely are they as successful as Alabama or Michigan.
Texas had to suffer through Charlie Strong before getting to Tom Herman (who the jury is still out on), while USC fired two coaches before settling on Clay Helton. LSU fired a former national championship winning coach, only to hire a guy that has a career losing record.
Michigan fired Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke before they hired Jim Harbaugh.
Most of the great coaching hires have been flukes, in their own way.
Alabama wanted to hire Rich Rodriguez, but after he turned them down the Tide “settled” on Nick Saban. Ohio State and Urban Meyer was perfect timing for both parties.
Florida State and Clemson, much like Oklahoma nearly two decades ago, found success by hiring first time head coaches. No one knew how either of those hires would turn out.
I’m not saying Tennessee fans should be ok with mediocrity at all. Vol fans deserve much better.
But there’s no guarantee that firing Butch Jones will end the mediocrity.
I wish there was a clear answer for Tennessee fans, but unfortunately there’s not.