On November 12th, following an embarrassing 50-17 loss to Missouri, Butch Jones was fired as Tennessee’s head football coach. It’s now February 28th, and his picture can still be found on the back of the Jumbotron at Neyland Stadium.
What began as sort of a running joke has transformed into a growing frustration for Vol fans. It has been a frequently discussed topic, and both Tennessee Athletics Director Phillip Fulmer and UT Chancellor Beverly Davenport have discussed its removal publicly.
In January, Davenport even went as far as to reply to a tweet from a fan, informing them that a crane has been ordered to take down Jones’ photo.
Please hang on. A crane has been ordered.
— Beverly Davenport (@ChancellorDav) January 2, 2018
Earlier Wednesday, it was reported that the removal process will begin on Monday, March 5th. So now the question becomes, “Who will replace Jones on the back of the Jumbotron?”
According to a report from John Brice of Gridiron Now, Jones’ replacement will be a member of Phillip Fulmer’s 1998 championship team.
“Multiple sources with direct connections to the school, including former football staffers, have shared with GN that the plan is to replace Jones’ image with that of former All-American linebacker Al Wilson, who was the captain of the 1998 title team,” reports Brice.
And apparently, the plan all along had been to replace Jones with Wilson; it wasn’t just a new conclusion.
“The plan is Al Wilson,” a source indicated to Brice. “That’s been the original plan (since Jones’ firing). Something could change, but the plan’s Al Wilson.”
Al Wilson had an illustrious career with the Vols, ending it with a National Championship victory over Florida State to cap off the undefeated 1998 season. Wilson won multiple SEC championships and was recognized as a first team All-American as a senior. He was drafted in the first round by the Denver Broncos and spent many years in the NFL.
Brice also states in his report that “more work than simply replacing one image with another…could be in store.” He claims that the Jumbotron could use new lights in addition to “modernization of some of its aesthetic features.”
He would add that the timeline for the removal of Jones’ photo and placement of Wilson’s picture is still up in the air, but his sources believe everything should be in order before Tennessee’s Orange & White Game on April 21st.
It was a long several months, but Vol fans can finally breathe a sigh of relief as it certainly appears Jones’ days on the the stadium are limited. And who better to replace him than fan favorite Al Wilson?