We answer your questions about Tennessee athletics or anything else in our weekly mailbag, Insider Mailing.
“If Butch said the right things like Barnes, would his mediocre be more acceptable?” – @SCompton72
Daniel: I’m not sure “acceptable” is the word I would use per se, since this fan base will never be ok with the Vanderbilt and South Carolina losses, but I do think that the fans would be a little more forgiving and willing to move on from 2016 had Butch not said some of the things he did. Some of his comments gave the impression that his expectations don’t match those of the fans. That’s tough to overcome.
Nathanael: I don’t think anything he said after the losses this season would make them more acceptable, but I get what you’re asking, Scott. If Jones used less coach speak and cut down on some of the more outlandish things he said and “owned” the losses like Barnes does, then I think he’d be viewed more favorably by fans, yes. Winning matters more than what he says, however.
Will: First of all, Barnes is an outlier when it comes to brutal honesty. He should by no means be the standard to compare other coaches to. As far as Butch goes, losing to Vanderbilt is never going to be acceptable, no matter what you say afterward. Joshua Dobbs said all the right things after the South Carolina loss, but that doesn’t minimize how poorly he played. Plus, Barnes beat Kentucky (twice) while Bama dominated Tennessee on the football field this year. That win alone buys Barnes much more fan support.
“More disappointing, Mass Effect 3 ending or Basketvols end to the season?” – Nick Weathers
Nathanael: That’s a really, really tough one. For those of you who don’t know what Mass Effect 3 is: It’s the final game in a video game trilogy. And the original endings were…well, pretty much as disappointing as this Vol football season for those (like me) who were huge fans of the series. But fortunately for us, Bioware (the creator of the game series) went back and added some free downloadable content to help make things better. It didn’t fully repair things, but it helped. Something like that isn’t happening with the Vols’ 2016 football season, so my answer is this past football season is more disappointing.
Will: The biggest disappointment of all time was the end of the NCAA football video games. End of discussion.
“IF Butch had still been around in 2020, which team would have been more likely to take him to OT: Charlotte or Furman?” – Kenny Martin
Daniel: Not sure, but if a staff with George Quarles on it takes Butch (or any UT coach) to overtime, there will be riots.
Nathanael: Neither is likely. At all. Furman is a bad FCS school (at least right now) and Charlotte is a mediocre (and new) Conference USA school. But I’d give the edge to a team that has George Quarles on staff (assuming he’s still there) because why not?
Will: No team named the 49ers ever has consistent success on the football field. I’ll go with Furman.
“Who had a better UT winning percentage after first four years; Jones or Majors?” – @NeylandMafia
Daniel: Jones by a pretty wide margin: 30-21 (14-18 SEC) to 21-23-1 (10-14 SEC).
Nathanael: It’s a little humbling to see those records put together like that actually. It also shows how much college football has changed to a “what have you done for me lately” sport now. Majors wouldn’t be the coach after four years at UT nowadays with that kind of record.
Will: All I know is, I bet Johnny Majors answering twitter trolls would have been awesome if he did coach in this era.
“I know this is somewhat ridiculous, but, what if we managed to get Christian Coleman in pads? Could he be effective?” – @MaxTE34
Nathanael: Tennessee has had a good history with track athletes as football players. In fact, the track program was at its best when football was at its best chiefly because of the relationship the two shared. But I don’t know if Coleman would translate that well. He was an all-state wide receiver and defensive back at his high school, but that was also in just a Class A region. So all things considered, I don’t know how effective he’d be. If the Vols get desperate at corner this year, though, they may come knocking like they did on frat row for a kicker a few years back.
Will: He was a 3-star in high school, and always thought his future was in football. I was teammates with him on the UT track team for a year and a half. So much of what makes him elite on the track is his technique. He is the best starter in the country, quicker than anybody out of the blocks. At 5-foot-8 he’s certainly undersized at wideout or corner, the only place he could maybe contribute with that quick start would be kick returner or punt returner.
“Titans moves so far…cheap or smart?” – Phil
Daniel: I liked the Logan Ryan signing. I think getting him around $10 million/year was a better overall deal than signing A.J. Bouye for more than that. Bouye has more upside in coverage, but Ryan might be a more complete corner and Jon Robinson feels comfortable with him. I could take or leave the Sly Williams for Al Woods swap, but I’ll trust Robinson on that one. Some of the other moves weren’t flashy, but special teams had to get better. I’m taking a wait-and-see approach on Johnathan Cyprien. If used correctly, he can be very useful, but I don’t trust him in a lot of coverage situations. He should, at the very least, be an upgrade over Da’Norris Searcy, who very well might get cut.
We’ll see where Dont’a Hightower ends up and for how much, but I’m fine not paying him $12+ million. He’s very good at what he does and would be a nice splash, but his skill set is limited for that much money. They have to get a receiver in the draft, but with four picks in the first three rounds as of now, there should be plenty of opportunities to do that. Big-picture, they upgraded the secondary, got better on special teams, kept all their draft capital and kept themselves in great shape financially to start getting ready for some of the huge deals that are coming for the guys like Marcus Mariota and Taylor Lewan. Nothing wow’ed me, but I get what Robinson is trying to accomplish.
Nathanael: I’m going to assume you want my input on the Cowboys moves so far, and my opinion there is that it’s been a rather meh offseason for them so far. They’ve added some decent depth and addressed some holes caused by departures, but it’s not been the offseason I’ve wanted so far. I do think, however, the Cowboys are building more through the draft rather than free agency, and I would like it that way better if true.
Will: Chess not checkers. They haven’t overspent on anyone, which gives them the luxury to spend money on the right guy, instead of just making moves for the sake of it. Logan Ryan was a great pickup, but losing Hightower certainly hurts. The Titans’ best opportunity to build is always going to come through the draft as long as Jon Robinson is in charge.