Back in March, Butch Jones was listed as the coach with the hottest seat in college football by Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports. Now another national media member has Jones on his hot seat list almost two months later.
Aaron Torres of Fox Sports compiled a list of five head coaches on the hot seat who could be doomed by their team’s schedules. Three of the five coaches on Torres’ list are from the SEC, and Tennessee’s Butch Jones is placed No. 2 on the list.
According to Torres, Jones and the Vols are in danger of getting off to a rough start thanks to a front-loaded schedule that includes a neutral site game against Georgia Tech, road games against Florida and Alabama, and a home game against Georgia. Torres states “it isn’t inconceivable for the Vols to open the season 3-4. And that’s assuming they beat South Carolina, a team they lost to last year.”
“Last year was Jones’ window to silence his doubters and prove once and for all that he belongs as a head coach in the SEC,” writes Torres. “Instead, the Volunteers sputtered to a second straight 9-4 finish, which included an embarrassing post-bye loss to South Carolina and a defeat at Vanderbilt that cost them a trip to the Sugar Bowl.
“The scary part? With a less talented roster in 2017, the schedule ratchets up significantly.”
Torres also points out the Vols’ cross-divisional game against LSU as a potential snag for Jones and his squad. “In a best-case scenario (something that rarely happens under Jones),” Torres writes, “this feels like a 7-5 season. Would that be enough for him to keep his job?”
Butch Jones hasn’t won seven or fewer games in a season with Tennessee since 2014 and has only done so three times in his 10 years of head coaching experience. A 7-5 record this season after the disappointment that was the 2016 season, however, will only turn more Vol fans against Jones.
The Vols’ 2017 schedule doesn’t have the gauntlet the 2016 schedule did, but it’s still pockmarked with difficult games in a short period of time. But every SEC team has a tough schedule, so the Vols can’t exactly use that as an excuse when compared to other conference teams.
It’s clear some of the national media is sold off Butch Jones and think this could be his last season as Tennessee’s head coach. All Vol fans may not share the same opinion, but it’s apparent that Jones is teetering and needs a solid 2017 season to win back some favor.