How long until Tennessee coach Butch Jones is fired?
Tennessee Volunteers head coach Butch Jones was already on a form of the hot-seat heading into Saturday, but now he might be falling off it. Hell, if you look close enough, you can see the burn holes in his pants.
Saturday’s 41-0 shutout loss to Georgia — the program’s worse since 1981 — isn’t going to help Butch Jones in any form or fashion. For whatever reason(s), and there seem to be plenty, Jones was already on the outs with Tennessee’s loyal fan base.
While I would normally advocate for an athletic department to side with its gut, as opposed to the perception of a program via its fan base, the Vols haven’t exactly done well over the years. Between poor coaching hires, to mismanaged advertisement of its own program, big bad Tennessee football seems like a thing only reserved for nostalgia.
Nostalgia is great… for TV show reboots or drunk middle-aged friends getting together years after seeing each other. For a football program? Not so much.
If the Vols decide it is time to send Jones packing, it might not happen during the season. There’s almost no good that comes out of firing a coach in the middle of the year. Sure. Yeah. It might appease the fan base, but it is not as if Tennessee could hire the “right” new coach in the middle of October.
Whatever possible replacements that are looming around the corner, Tennessee won’t be able to go after them until the season is over (or damn near really close to it).
This creates a bit of an issue moving forward: Jones might already be “out” as far as the athletic department is concerned. The limbo the program would be in if that were true isn’t a healthy environment for the current players on the roster.
Imagine it like any other work place. There might be a section who hate the boss who is about to be shown the door, but even s/he will have die-hard supporters. The kind of people who will want rally behind him/her up until the actual firing happens. Then, because humans have emotions, those loyalists might leave with the boss.
Often times, it is better to rip the band-aid off than it is to slowly remove it. The latter might appear to be the safer route to go, but the direct fallout of worrying so much about the pain can result in longer lasting implications. For the Vols, that slow band-aid removal would be taking their time firing Jones, who plays the role of the inept boss at your local whatever-the-hell-it-is-you-do.
By not ripping off this human embodiment of a band-aid, an infection can be lurking in the dark shadows.
It is, earnestly, a tough decision awaiting the athletic department. At least one tougher than simply canning a guy because everyone agrees he should be.
What is somewhat funny about all of this, however, is that Tennessee isn’t all awful. At least not in terms of overall record. If this was a single season dilly, the discussion wouldn’t be about Butch Jones and his job security. The narrative would be more similar to a guy possibly overachieving or whatever.
It could be spun differently. Maybe not inherently more positive, but the doom and gloom currently residing within the program wouldn’t be as massive.
Again, perception does matter here. As does the context. This isn’t a singular, void of other negative context, deal for Jones. This is a resume being built that is historically unacceptable for a program such as the Vols.
Not to mention that Jones is parlaying his awful on-the-field play with as awful doubling-down of unlikable off it.
0-2 in SEC play, coming off a “fake news” rant earlier in the week, Butch Jones has been doing himself no favors. Not only is he failing to endear himself to his own fan base, but he is void of most media support — if not flatly ticking the latter, powerful group off.
Confidence is fine. Defiance is even better. That is, you know, unless you have no reason to be such things. When you’re overseeing a program in a relative free fall, those attributes that make some like Jim Harbaugh a bit of a novelty, turn a coach like Butch Jones into an unsuccessful annoyance.
It doesn’t matter what walk of life you inhabit. No one likes an overconfident, yet underachieving blow-hard.