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The Story Behind Butch Jones’ Record at Tennessee

Photo Credit: Mason Burgin

When looking at a head coach’s record at a school, the overall win/loss record doesn’t always tell the whole story. Sometimes the tale behind the numbers is just as important as what the overall record is.

And for Butch Jones, the story that his record tells is an interesting one.

Jones has been the head coach at Tennessee for four years now, and he’s earned some big wins and suffered some excruciating losses. But before we get into an analysis of his record while at Tennessee, here’s a detailed breakdown of his 30-21 overall record in his four years at Tennessee.

Breakdown

All-time: 30-21
Road games: 6-12
Home games: 19-9
Neutral site (regular season): 2-0
Bowl games: 3-0
vs. Top 25 (road/home/bowl): 6-15 (1-9, 3-6, 2-0)
vs. Top 15 (road/home): 1-12 (0-8, 1-4)
One-score games (road/home): 8-11 (3-5, 5-6)
SEC games (road/home): 14-18 (6-10, 8-8)
Power 5, non-SEC opponents (road/home/neutral): 4-3 (0-1, 0-2, 4-0)
vs. Teams with winning records: 14-16
vs. Teams with losing records: 7-3
vs. Teams with .500 records: 9-1
OT games: 2-3
Games w/ Worley as starter: 7-7
Games w/ Dobbs as starter: 23-12
Games w/ Peterman as starter 0-2
Month of August: 2-0
Month of September: 9-6
Month of October: 5-10
Month of November: 11-5

Analysis 

Immediately what stands out about Butch Jones’ record while at Tennessee is just how many difficult road games the Vols have faced while he’s been here. Last year, Tennessee had a split with ranked match-ups on the road and at home (the Vols faced two ranked teams on the road and two at home), but throughout the last four years, the Vols have faced much more highly-ranked opponents on the road than at home. Tennessee has faced eight top 15 teams on the road compared to just five in Neyland Stadium since 2013.

Jones is just 8-11 in one-score games during his time at Tennessee. The Vols were 2-2 in such games last year, so no progress was made there after starting out 6-9 in one-score games in Jones’ first three years as head coach.

Entering this season, Tennessee was 12-2 in games against teams with a .500 or worse record. But that changed for the worst in 2016. The Vols went just 4-2 against those teams last season, beating both the teams they played with .500 records but losing twice to teams with losing records. Those teams, of course, were South Carolina and Vanderbilt. Jones did go 5-1 against teams with winning records last season, however, pushing his overall mark to 14-16 there.

The Vols made a major improvement in the month of September under Jones this year, going a perfect 4-0 in September this season. But Jones’ weakness has been the month of October, and that continued last season. Jones is just 5-10 in October during his four years at Tennessee, and the Vols were an abysmal 1-3 during that crucial month last year.

Only six of Jones’ 30 wins at Tennessee have come against ranked opponents. The Vols defeated three ranked teams last year (Florida, Georgia, Nebraska), effectively doubling the amount of wins Jones had against ranked teams in his first three years at Tennessee.

Just over 41 percent of Jones’ games at Tennessee have been played against teams ranked in the top 25. The Vols have played 21 games against top 25 teams over the last four years. And of those 21 games, 13 have been against top 15 teams. That means almost 62 percent of Tennessee’s games against ranked opponents have been against top 15 teams.

Jones is perfect in neutral site games. Including bowl games, the Vols have gone 5-0 in neutral site games under Jones. Tennessee is 3-0 in bowl games and have won regular season games in Nashville against Bowling Green and in Bristol Motor Speedway against Virginia Tech. The Vols will begin the 2017 season with another neutral site game when they take on Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

Conclusion

Butch Jones improved his record at Tennessee in some ways last season, but he hurt it in others as well. 2016 was a complicated season for the Vols, and it’s reflected in Jones’ record when you break it down.

This year will be arguably the most pivotal year of Jones’ tenure at Tennessee. He’ll need to do more than just improve his overall record; Jones will need to take care of the details as well.

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