Two Reports Conflict on Decision Regarding Butch Jones’ Job

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    Butch Jones’ job security has been the hot talk around Knoxville and the nation as it pertains to college football lately. And now we have two conflicting reports attempting to lay down a timeline as to when Tennessee’s athletic director may make a change at head coach.

    According to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports, UT AD John Currie may not be in any rush to make a change. At least not before the 2017 season ends.

    Thamel shared his weekly 10 Takeaways in an article, and No. 2 on his list dealt with Jones and Currie. “After Tennessee gets blown out at No. 1 Alabama on Saturday to fall to 0-4 in the SEC, don’t expect Currie to react,” Thamel writes. “The end is coming for Jones, just not as fast as some may like.”

    According to Thamel, Currie can be described as “a hardline pragmatist” and is “the opposite of emotional or reactionary.” He believes that Currie wouldn’t react to a blowout loss to Alabama in the way fans would, even with losses to South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida already having occurred.

    “The weekly predictions that Tennessee will fire Butch Jones soon after emotional losses or listless victories are really just knee-jerk fodder and clickbait,” Thamel writes. “Currie wanted nothing more than Jones to succeed upon arriving in Knoxville, and it would go strongly against Currie’s nature to execute a mid-season firing.”

    Thamel did go on to admit that Jones’ job is now on a clock, and he stated that Jones’ tenure at Tennessee “can now be reduced to a timing issue.” But he states that the firing of Jones is more likely to happen later in the season or even at the end of the regular season rather than after this weekend or in the near future.

    But Thamel claims that Currie is well-connected when it comes time to searching for a coach. Here’s his full breakdown of Currie’s ability to find a coach and Currie’s unwavering patience:

    There’s little advantage to firing Jones now. Currie spent his final years as Kansas State’s athletic director preparing to someday replace Bill Snyder, a common-sense approach when your coach is in his 70s. Few athletic directors have worked harder over the years networking with up-and-coming coaches, getting to know established ones and generally navigating the intricate football coaching market. The aura of mystery that’s surrounded the end of Snyder’s tenure at Kansas State forced Currie to have a real-time understanding of the nuances of the coach hiring space. In other words, Currie is as prepared to hire a new coach as any athletic director and won’t be starting from scratch.

    But according to Paul Finebaum, Tennessee will look to make a move sooner than Thamel believes.

    Finebaum appeared on Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN on Tuesday, and he had a different take. Not only does he think the Vols will make a move to fire Butch Jones mid-season, but he threw out some interesting names to watch out for as well.

    “I think after Saturday when Tennessee rolls into Tuscaloosa and loses by some historic proportion, that could be the end,” Finebaum said on air. “It’s hard to predict the end for Butch Jones because it’s already over.

    “A lot of names are surfacing for this job. Dan Mullen’s name is being mentioned…(Dino) Babers will get a look at a big job.”

    But those weren’t the only names Finebaum threw out as potential replacements at Tennessee.

    “They want Jon Gruden,” Finebaum said of Tennessee fans. “He was in town over the weekend before the Monday Night game, and I think he flirted with that job a couple of years ago. His wife was a cheerleader there.

    “I don’t think that’s going to happen, but I think you’re going to see a lot of interesting names for that job. And I think you’ll see them very very quickly”

    Only time will tell how soon and when a move will be made at Tennessee. Butch Jones is still the Vols’ head coach as they prepare to take on No. 1 Alabama this weekend, and if Pete Thamel is to be believed, he’ll be the head coach for several games after that as well.

    But if Paul Finebaum is correct, this weekend may be the last time Vol fans see Butch Jones at the helm of Tennessee’s football program.

    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.