HOT BOARD: Realistic guide to Vols coaching candidates
Butch Jones is out at Tennessee, ending a vigil of sorts. It’s been obvious the move was coming for weeks, but now it's done. Tennessee is in the market for a head coach.
As is the case with every coaching change, the move will have a ripple effect. Rivals.com attempts to predict such an effect by outlining the five teams that will benefit most from another coaching search in Knoxville.
1. OLE MISS
The more SEC schools that fall apart, the better the outlook for Ole Miss. The Rebels are also in the market for a head coach. And while having another team wading in the coaching search waters isn’t ideal, Jones’ removal gives them one less stable SEC program to recruit against, which is no small perk when you consider the Rebs’ situation. Ole Miss needs breaks and Tennessee spending some time without a coach qualifies as one.
Georgia’s inclusion here is all about Cade Mays and Alontae Taylor. The Bulldogs have been attempting to get involved with both prospects for some time. Coaching uncertainty combined with UGA’s stellar season could be just the push the Bulldogs need to pull a late-cycle robbery or two. Sure, there’s a chance that both Mays, who decommitted from Tennessee on Nov. 7, and Taylor will still consider the Vols when the new coach is in place, but the momentum building in Athens will be hard to ignore.
Academic requirements sometimes dictate that Vanderbilt and Tennessee pursue different prospects, but there are still plenty of head-to-head battles between the schools. Head coach Derek Mason has Vandy looking stable at worst, which gives him a talking point in such battles. This won’t likely be a game-changing boost to the Commodores’ recruiting, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. The program should land a handful of players it might not when dealing with a healthy Vol program.
Kentucky’s inclusion here is about the state of Florida. The Vols and Wildcats seem to recruit the same level of prospect out of the Sunshine State. Both find themselves in play for players that straddle the line between three and four-star status. Both are similarly located and belong to the same, prestigious conference. With Tennessee in search of stability and a coach, one of the Wildcats’ main roadblocks in Florida is on the shelf for a bit. Lexington looks more appealing to Florida-based players without in-state offers than it did months ago.
It’s an uncomfortable truth, but the Vols were going to have an impossible time attracting talent to Knoxville as long as Jones twisted in the hot seat wind. Players with options aren’t often motivated to commit to schools that boast lame duck coaches. Regardless of who the Vols hire next, the act itself will be a stabilizing force in the short term. Tennessee recruited well under Jones for a stretch, but that dwindled with Jones’ job security. The upcoming recruiting class won’t likely be pretty, but now there’s hope for the long term.