Tennessee head football coach Butch Jones has already appeared on a few hot seat lists this offseason. Now one writer is outright predicting Jones may be fired before the month of November.
Ben Kercheval, a college football writer for CBS Sports, wrote a piece making five bold predictions for the upcoming 2017 college football season. And one of his predictions involved Butch Jones.
Kercheval predicted that at least five Power Five football coaches would be fired by the time November rolled around, and one of those coaches could be Jones.
“We are in a day and age now in college football where schools refuse to wait before making a coaching change — or, at the very least, get the process started,” Kercheval writes. “Les Miles was infamously fired by LSU last September after losing to Auburn when he probably should have been released after the end of the 2015 season.
“October is the new December and there are a number of coaches on the hot seat entering this season. Among them are Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M), Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss), Brian Kelly (Notre Dame), Todd Graham (Arizona State), Jim Mora (UCLA) and Butch Jones (Tennessee).”
He would go on to add that “this feels like a year when conditions will be right for a number of early-season firings. It’s not uncommon anymore to get a couple Power Five firings in September, but I’ll go on the record to say we get five. ”
The Vols’ schedule may not be as front-loaded as the 2016 schedule, but Tennessee still doesn’t have an easy start to their 2017 season. Tennessee goes on the road to Florida, hosts Georgia and South Carolina, and then travels to Alabama and Kentucky before November begins. And that doesn’t even include their non-conference opener against Georgia Tech. The Vols will face Missouri on the road and host LSU and Vanderbilt to close out conference play in the month of November.
Given Tennessee’s tough start to the 2017 slate of games, the Vols could easily be 5-3 or 4-4 by the start of November. At worst, the Vols could possibly be 3-5 or even 2-6 with their only wins coming out of conference. But there’s also the possibility of Tennessee going 6-2 or even 7-1 in that stretch, even if those are a little less likely.
If the Vols stumble out of the gate in conference play, Vol fans won’t be happy, especially if Tennessee opens up SEC play 0-2 with losses to both Florida and Georgia. If that were to happen, the Vols’ 2017 season could head down a slippery slope.
And if Tennessee is already out of the SEC East race by the start of November, Kercheval’s bold prediction could indeed come true.