Common sense says that Butch Jones is facing a lot of pressure in 2017.
A new list from Tom Fornelli on CBSSports.com indicates that Jones’ seat is on fire. Jones is listed as No. 1 on this list of coaches on the hot seat heading into the 2017 after he finished 2016 with a 9-4 record and a Music City Bowl win after facing championship expectations coming into the season.
Here’s what Fornelli had to say about Jones and the Tennessee situation:
“In the end, I had to go with Jones ahead of (Notre Dame’s Brian) Kelly on this list. Unlike Kelly, Jones doesn’t have an appearance in a national title game or a Fiesta Bowl on his resume at Tennessee. All Jones really has on his Vols resume at this point are a lot of expectations that his teams have failed to live up to.
Now, I don’t really hold last season against Jones. Tennessee entered the year as the popular pick to win the SEC East, and for the first half of the season, the Vols were playing like it. Then the injuries came, and they kept coming. After starting the season 5-0, the Vols finished the regular season at 8-4, including a loss to Vanderbilt to finish the regular season.Through four seasons Jones is only 14-18 in conference play, and that’s just not good enough.
Further complicating matters for Jones is that he’ll have a new boss this year too. Tennessee recently hired John Currie to be its athletic director, and while Currie has spent plenty of time in Knoxville, he has no connection to Jones. If the Vols don’t take a significant step forward in 2017, the next step Jones takes will likely be out the door.”
A vast majority of Tennessee fans will agree that the Vols didn’t live up to expectations in 2016, but the root issue is widely debated. Some view Tennessee’s injuries as the primary reason the Vols fell short of goals such as winning the SEC East, while others still point the finger at Jones, either saying that they still shouldn’t be an excuse for losing to South Carolina and Vanderbilt down the stretch and/or pointing out that changes Jones made in the strength and conditioning program may have contributed to the injury outbreak.
Regardless, most UT fans will also agree that Jones is entering a pivotal fifth year. Every player on the roster was signed by him, he’s brought in five new assistant coaches and with him making over $4 million per year, Jones simply can’t afford another year of falling below expectations.