Unless you’ve lived under a rock or haven’t paid attention to any sort of Vol football news this offseason, you’ve seen Butch Jones’ name on all the hot seat lists this summer. Jones is a trendy pick for lists like that right now, and some national analysts are even saying he could be canned by the end of the season or even before it’s over.
Tennessee’s three player representatives, seniors Kendal Vickers, Jashon Robertson, and Emmanuel Moseley, were asked about the hot seat talk surrounding their head coach while at SEC Media Days on Monday.
“It’s a little disrespectful,” Vickers said when asked about Jones’ potentially being on the hot seat. “When I got here, we were 5-7 and I was redshirted. Things were bad. For us to win three straight bowl games, us being 9-4, we haven’t won every game, but we go out there to win every game.
“He’s changed this program so much, and he’s done everything he’s possibly been able to do to change the culture at Tennessee. So, yeah I think it’s a little bit disrespectful, but we don’t worry about that in the locker room.”
The other two players were a little less brash than Vickers, claiming they try to ignore the talk surrounding their head coach.
“We don’t really worry about that,” Emmanuel Moseley replied when asked a similar question. “We only focus on what we can control, and that’s summer workouts, on the field workouts, and just trying to have a successful season.”
Robertson echoed Moseley’s sentiments and went on to add some praise for his head coach.
“We aren’t really paying much attention to the outside noise,” Robertson stated, “but as far as Coach Jones goes, he really appreciates all of the things we’re doing day in and day out. We feel the same way about him.
“In the same sense, we’re one of three teams who have had back-to-back 9-game winning seasons. Also, we won three consecutive bowl games, and that hadn’t been done at the University of Tennessee in 20 years. There’s a lot of positives.”
While at Tennessee, Jones has guided the Vols to back-to-back 9-4 records after going 5-7 and 7-6 in his first two seasons. The Vols were also a combined 28-34 in the five years before Jones took over. The rebuilding effort Jones and his various coaching staff members over the years have done is a solid one considering just how far Tennessee had fallen off.
But the second half collapses against top teams in 2015 and the failure to win the SEC East after starting out 5-0 last year has caused some to question Jones’ ability as a coach. And many national analysts this year are putting Jones on the hot seat because of those mishaps.
Jones’ players, however, are either ignoring that talk or think it’s disrespectful to their coach. Jones and his players will have a chance to prove the national media wrong (or right) starting on September 4th when Tennessee travels to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech in the season opener.