Tennessee Vols head coach Butch Jones is going through a bit of a rough patch in year five at UT.
A lot of fans were calling for Butch Jones’ job after the Tennessee Vols’ disastrous 41-0 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs in Knoxville.
But Tennessee still has a winning record (3-2), and we haven’t reached the midpoint of the season yet, so Jones was never in any real danger of losing his job after the loss to Georgia.
However, if the Vols lose their next two games — at home against South Carolina and on the road against Alabama — then Jones could be out of a job by the end of November.
But on the flip side, there’s a real possibility that Jones can right the ship and save his job.
Going into the 2017 season, we figured the ceiling for the Volunteers this season, given the loss of players like Josh Dobbs and Derek Barnett, was eight or nine regular season wins.
In fact, before the season started, I predicted the Vols would win nine games this season. And I predicted they’d get off to a 3-2 start with losses to Florida and Georgia. Of course, box scores don’t tell the full story and none of us predicted that Tennessee would barely skate by UMass and get embarrassed by Georgia.
But eight or nine wins are still within reach for Jones. With the exception of the Volunteers’ game against Alabama, all the remaining games on the schedule are winnable.
As bad as the situation in Tennessee looks right now, and as much of a joke as Jones has become in the media, if the Vols rally to win eight regular season games, I don’t think Jones will lose his job.
Look, I’ve been calling for Jones’ job since the inexplicable loss to Florida. And short of running the table and finishing the season with 11 wins, there’s nothing that Jones can do that will make me think he will turn Tennessee into a national powerhouse.
But if Butch can somehow turn this season around, and finish with eight or nine wins, then it would be practically impossible to fire him.
What coach in their right mind would come to Tennessee after that happens?
And this is why John Currie’s next moves are so important. If the Vols retain Jones past 2017, they’ll be getting more of the same for the foreseeable future. It’s obvious to everyone at this point that a change needs to be made.
However, if Jones rallies his team (which is plausible — he’s at his best when his back’s against the wall), Currie might not be able to make a move.
Which is why Jones needs to be fired after the Alabama game.
If Currie doesn’t fire Jones before the end of November, there’s a very real possibility he’ll be stuck with a seven or eight win coach.
And it’s not like Jones is going to pull a Gary Anderson and leave without taking his buyout.
Currie is going to have to fire Jones and it looks like the deadline to make the move is October 22.
Do the right thing John, your job depends on it.