Tennessee and Butch Jones deserve much more recognition than laughs
Tennessee football may have underachieved this year, but they should be given more appreciation for their turnaround. The previous years were unwatchable.
When Tennessee football head coach Butch Jones said his senior class won the “championship of life”, he was mocked for the phrase and his lack of trophies.
However, lost amongst the laughter was Jones’ ability to rebuild the program. The Volunteers were brutal before his arrival. They went 23-27 from 2009 to 2012 including 0-2 in bowl games. Following a 38-24 win over Nebraska Friday, the Vols are now 30-21 during his four years and 3-0 in bowl games. They will also be ranked in the final top 25 polls for the second consecutive year.
Yes, they failed to improve on their 9-4, 2015 record. Yes, a top-tier back in Jalen Hurd left the squad. However, Tennessee also has the 11th ranked recruiting class for 2017. In fact, Jones’ recruiting skills are matched by few. He’s added the 7th, 4th and 14th best recruiting classes in 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively.
I’m not necessarily saying Jones is the permanent answer for the Vols. He’s yet to record a double-digit winning season and is stagnant with back-to-back 9-4 season. Regardless, he took an undisciplined and poorly coached football team to a perennial bowl contender. Derek Dooley took one of Tennessee’s best offenses to just one bowl game in three seasons. Quarterback Tyler Bray, wide receivers Justin Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson and tight end Mychal Rivera were wasted.
When people look back on the Joshua Dobbs era, they’ll see hope in the program. Since 2007, there’s been zero optimism around the program. A lot of that returned under Jones. Fans know players want to come to Knoxville and that’s a start. Volunteer fans be careful what you wish for. The present isn’t glowing with national titles, but it’s far and away better than the past.
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