It is decision time in Tennessee.
Which way does the Volunteers’ football program actually want to go? After a lackluster performance at Florida, losing on a last second Hail Mary, the program does not appear to showcase a clear direction.
Newly hired athletics director John Currie has made a strong presence within the athletics department since his first day on the job April 1.
Six days following the men’s tennis season concluding, Currie acted swiftly in relieving 11-year coach Sam Winterbotham of his duties.
Currie then offered baseball coach Dave Serrano the chance to resign before not renewing his contract and brought in a splash hire in Tony Vitello, one who excelled in the sport at Arkansas.
Now Currie faces a dilemma.
This time the sport is football – the backbone of the university’s athletics program.
Butch Jones is “the caretaker of Tennessee football” – as he proclaims – but his taking care of the program is at the crossroads.
There is no denying the amount of effort Jones has put into the program during his five years, placing Tennessee football back on stable ground following the combined debacle from Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley’s four years, which segued the embarrassing handling of Phillip Fulmer’s departure in 2008.
Currie was part of the administration that relieved Fulmer of his duties, and he can right the wrongs of his then boss and former athletics director Mike Hamilton and place the Tennessee football program in a position to be elite again. He needs to decide if Jones is part of the plans going forward, and if so how he can get Jones over the hump.
Currie has shown that he acts proactively to place the athletics program in a direction that it has not been under Hamilton and his predecessor Dave Hart. Currie showed that he is capable of making right decisions last week by doing what was right in reinstating the Lady Vols name, logo and brand back into the athletics department – something Hart handled poorly, dividing many.
Currie’s former co-worker during his previous stint as associate athletics director at Tennessee, Mark Ingram, now athletics director at UAB, said Currie is a “working man that is in our business.
“He’s that guy, doing everything he can to make sure Tennessee regains its position as a national power athletically.”
And that is where Tennessee currently stands in the direction of the football program – getting back to being a national power.
Tennessee football is missing a killer instinct that hinders it from taking over games, and that was apparent in a Hail Mary loss to Florida.
Jones has earned the right to get this, far to year No. 5, but the talk of champions of life, five-star hearts, playing three games in 13 games, and practicing in 65-degree weather before playing in a humid Ben Hill Griffin Stadium has worn thin.
Currie needs to get the Volunteers’ football house in order to win at a championship level again with a killer instinct.
Source: Saturday Down South