Head Coach of the Tennessee Vols Fired

11 months ago Triangle 0

Fans of the Tennessee Vols have called for Butch Jones’ firing since the 2017 season started. Signs to fire Jones began popping up everywhere after Tennessee beat Georgia Tech on September 4. The rising of fan backlash ricocheted when the Georgia Bulldogs shut down the Vols 41-0 on September 30.  

The signs continued, appearing at a Tennessee Titans football game, a Memphis Grizzlies basketball game and a Nashville Predators hockey game. Signs showed up on the field of Iowa after the team dominated Ohio State. “Fire Butch” was graffitied on the stands of Tuscaloosa. Signs appeared at the Louisville- NC State game and the Georgia Tech game. Even at TCU, JMU and Miami’s GameDay coverage.

The call to fire Jones wasn’t only at sporting events. A tweet made by a fan showed a couple of pictures of cakes and cookies with the words “Fire Butch Jones” written on them. The fan wrote on the tweet, “Food Lion gone full savage. Even the cupcakes…”

Some people, however, extended support to Jones. Although some of it is to pester Tennessee fans. At Penn State’s GameDay a sign read “Keep Butch Jones.” In the background of Tennessee’s SEC Nation a sign said “We love Butch Jones.” Even in the skies above Tennessee-Alabama, a plane flew with a sign behind it saying, “Butch ur mom still loves you.” Finally, at the South Carolina-Tennessee game, South Carolina fans wore shirts that read: “Keep Butch Jones.”

Before Jones came to the University of Tennessee (UT), he coached at Central Michigan for three seasons but moved onto Cincinnati. Jones stayed there for three years until he was plucked away by UT for the 2013 season. Since Jones started coaching in 1987 as an intern, he moved from team to school, but this is the first time that Jones has been fired.

During Jones’ time at UT, he went 34-27 overall with a 14-24 record in the SEC. The Vols struggled consistently winning in the SEC. This season, they are in danger of missing a bowl game, the first time Tennessee won’t be in a bowl game since 2013 when Jones first came to take the head coach position.

On November 13, 2017, Jones was fired and Brady Hoke, defensive line coach, took over as interim head coach for the rest of the season.

“Late [Saturday] night, it was evident that this was probably the direction we needed to go for the best of all concerned. We wanted our student-athletes to have the best possible chance for success. We want Coach Jones and his family to be treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve. We want to be able to focus, from my perspective, on the search going forward,” John Currie, the athletic director for UT told the press.

The Vols will be hiring their fifth head coach in the past 11 years. Jones contract runs through March 2021. Right now, Jones is making $4.1 million per year at Tennessee and owed $2.5 million per year because of his contract deal. The estimated buyout for Jones is around $8 million.

In 2013, when Jones first received the head coach position, UT had only recorded one winning season in the previous five years. They also lost at least six games in the season for five years straight. From 2014-2017, Jones brought four straight top-15 recruiters boasting the roster for the next couple years.

The last time UT won a SEC Championship was in 1998, which is also the year that they won the national championship. The year before Fulmer was fired, UT saw their last time to be in the top-20 finish in the AP poll in 2007.

The 41-0 loss against Georgia was UT’s first shutout in 23 years and their worst loss at home since 1905. When the media continued to post bad media after the Georgia game, Jones spent the following week calling the negative coverage “overwhelming.” They lost to Missouri 50-17. That was their fifth loss out of six games. Three weeks ago, the Vols lost to Kentucky, their second loss to the Wildcats in the past 33 years.

The offense at UT has been a problem this season for them. UT went through a 15 scoreless quarter drought. This brought the Vols to being second-to-last in the SEC in yards per game as well as 13th in the league in scoring offense. At the beginning of this season, UT was number 19 in the country with hopes of going far. They were believed to be a challenge to Georgia from the ‘Hail Mary’ win last season.

This season, however, has been full of injuries. The Vols injury list started with their top linebacker – Darrin Kirkland, Jr., their top tackler – Todd Kelley, Jr., top receiver – Jauan Jennings and one of the nation’s top kick returners – Evan Berry. There is only so much blame you can put on a coach for losing, some of the blame has to be put on the players. Sometimes, injuries cannot go unavoid, but when they do happen, the replacement needs to be ready to play. UT’s replacements have not seemed to be ready. Again, there is only so much blame you can put on a coach for losing.

Emilee Harvey is a communications major with a focus in film and design and is the graphics coordinator.