We answer your best questions about Tennessee athletics and anything else in our weekly mailbag, Insider Mailing.
“If CBJ has 10 win season and wins the East, but still puts foot in mouth during interviews, does the fan base let up on the guy?” – Jeff
Nathanael: Should they? Probably. Will they? No, doubt it. Some people are sold off Butch Jones now no matter what he does. He could win the SEC Championship and some Vol fans still wouldn’t be happy with him. But I do think people will hold his catchphrases and coach speak against him no matter what.
Will: Yes. They have to. Because even Tennessee fans have to come to their senses eventually…right? Granted, Chuck Pagano of the Indianapolis Colts uses Butch-isms and many fans can’t stand him no matter how much he wins. Who cares how he answers questions if he just wins?
“Is the fanbase hot-seat talk really because of what CBJ has done, or is it more because of what he has said?” – Andrew
Nathanael: I think it’s a combination of both. The fans would be upset at the collapses and failure to win the East no matter what, but those shortcomings are only exacerbated by the things Jones has said after the fact. Jones’ “champions of life” and “five-star hearts” came after Tennessee choked away the East this year. And some of his other phrases and sayings came after Tennessee failed to win big games in 2015 too.
Will: It’s mostly because of what he says. Fans overlook how good a job he’s done simply because he doesn’t answer questions the way he “should” be answering them. But if Tennessee just beats Vandy, no one is talking about what Butch is saying in press conferences. You can’t fire a coach because he uses cliches in interviews. A good portion of UT’s fan base would disagree with me on that.
“What is most overused expression of Coach Jones? Individual or something else?” – Keith
Nathanael: It used to be “critical” in my opinion, but it’s absolutely “individual” now. I think he says it about 20 times per press conference.
Will: It has to be individual. Somebody needs to buy Butch a thesaurus. Because there are literally 50 different words for “individual” he could throw in every now and then.
“What % chance would you give Tennessee of winning at least one out of UF, UGA, LSU this season?” – Daniel
Nathanael: It’s certainly not an extremely high percentage, but I do think the Vols get at least one of those games. And if I had to pick which one, I’d say the Georgia game since it’s at home and earlier in the season. I think Tennessee loses the other two, though. But they could certainly prove me wrong. I don’t think either of those games will be blowouts if the Vols do lose them.
Will: I think there’s a pretty good chance. I’d put it at 60%. Who knows how well Malik Zaire fits in Gainesville? Plus, Jacob Eason and Danny Etling’s first trips to Knoxville will be in extremely raucous environments. If Tennessee is in the hunt for an SEC East title when LSU comes to town in November, just imagine how insane Neyland Stadium would be. That’s the most likely win out of the three for me. Ed Orgeron has to prove that he’s ready to be a good coach in the SEC again. I’m not sure he is.
“At what point does talent outweigh experience when it comes to playing time? Some complained about Warrior PT last year. Understandable?” – @awhitingbba
Nathanael: I understand where they’re coming from, but there’s a reason why experience often trumps talent. We’ve seen that multiple times with Tennessee alone. Drew Richmond had more talent than the guys playing in front of him last season, but he wasn’t ready. Same thing with Warrior. He had more athleticism than most of the other defensive backs on the roster, but he didn’t know the schemes well enough and it led to some big plays given up by him. But he’ll learn. The young players will be eased in, but if a veteran is making mistakes and is less talented than the freshman behind him, then that’s when talent outweighs experience. But until that happens, the experience will always win, especially in Butch’s system.
Will: So many fans just want to throw in the newest young sensation, but patience is so important. Guys like Warrior and Trey Smith will get their chance. There’s a reason the Colton Jumpers of the team are still seeing the field. You need players who have been there before. In places like the Swamp, you can’t rely solely on young talent. You have to lean on guys who have been in that atmosphere before.
“Best stadium foods and/or snacks? I’m partial to Salted Pretzels + Nacho cheese.” – Ike
Nathanael: Are we talking overall or at Neyland? Because if it’s just overall, I’m agreeing with what Will said below. Chicken tenders and fries with honey mustard is my go-to. It’s clutch and tastes great.
Will: Chicken tenders and fries basket with honey mustard. Undefeated.
“If the 2016 Tennessee football season was a rock song, what song would it be?” – @BigOrangeButch
Nathanael: I’m going to go with “Party Up” by DMX simply because of the line, “Y’all gon make me lose my mind, up in here, up in here.”
Will: “Crazy Train.”