Depending on who you ask, you could get a wide range of responses when it comes to Butch Jones’ status and job security in Knoxville.
In one camp, you have those supporting the progress of the Tennessee program and what looks to be a bright future thanks to continued success on the recruiting trail — the Vols currently have the No. 1-rated recruiting class in the SEC for the 2018 cycle and hold commitments from several elite 2019 and 2020 prospects.
On the other hand, many can’t look past the fact Jones was unable to lead the Vols to Atlanta with a team full of experience and talent in 2016. Late season losses to South Carolina and Vanderbilt were particularly troubling. Add to the fact that one of the team’s star players essentially quit the team in the middle of last season and it’s easy to argue there was something rotten within Jones’ program last fall.
While not an outright proclamation of support for the job Jones has done at Tennessee, SEC Network host Peter Burns did tweet out a number of impressive stats the Vols have achieved in recent seasons under Jones.
Interesting when you look at Tennessee football this way. pic.twitter.com/8xvpas4Kpf
— Peter Burns (@PeterBurnsESPN) July 17, 2017
Considering Kirby Smart and Jim McElwain both arrived at their respective schools after Jones was hired by Tennessee, it certainly wouldn’t be a great look for the Volunteer coach if his team can’t compete with either Georgia or Florida in the coming season. The Vols were picked third in the division last week by the SEC media, with several media members arguing Tennessee could finish as low as 5th or 6th in the division, so meeting high expectations won’t be the major challenge facing Jones’ team in 2017.
This debate will go away in a hurry if Tennessee pulls an upset or two in SEC play and finally wins an East Division title under Jones. Should that happen and Jones isn’t immediately given a new contract, the school’s main concern could quickly shift to Jones becoming a hot commodity for a school eager to upgrade its coaching staff.
Jones has undoubtedly achieved a great deal of progress at Tennessee, the real question is, will he continue to trend in that direction in 2017? If not, how will the new leadership at the school, and perhaps, more importantly, the fan base, respond?
Source: Saturday Down South