football

Take Two: How hot is Butch Jones' seat at Tennessee?

Take Two returns with a daily offering tackling a handful of issues in the college football landscape. Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Adam Gorney lays out the situation and then receives takes from Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell and a local expert from the Rivals.com network of team sites.

MORE TAKE TWO: Justin Fields | Gus Malzahn | J.T. Barrett | Lamar Jackson

Jz5yerowxbfkkjlagpj5
Butch Jones
AP Images

STORYLINE

Will a 63-yard last-second Hail Mary sink Butch Jones?

The jury is still out on the Tennessee coach and the Vols have plenty of schedule left, but the loss at rival Florida this past weekend – and the way they played and gave up the victory – left a bunch of Tennessee fans, donors and decision-makers stewing.

Tennessee needed double overtime to beat Georgia Tech, which failed on a two-point conversion or it would have won the game. The Vols marched over Indiana State only to come to Florida on Saturday and lose in stunning fashion.

CBS showed Tennessee fans stunned in The Swamp after Florida QB Feleipe Franks hit Tyrie Cleveland for the touchdown, showing the Vols not in any sort of prevent defense and no defenders in the end zone when the ball arrived. The defensive call was simply embarrassing and mind-boggling.

When will this program return to national prominence? And is Jones the right person for the job?

UMass comes to Knoxville this weekend. That should be easy. Then it gets really challenging for the Vols – and it could be make-or-break time for Jones and his tenure at Tennessee, where he’s 32-22 overall, 14-19 in conference play coming off back-to-back 9-win seasons.

Georgia and South Carolina come to Knoxville and then the Vols visit Alabama and Kentucky. To close out the regular season, Tennessee hosts LSU and Vanderbilt.

The seat was already warm for Jones. After the Florida debacle, it’s growing ever hotter.

FIRST TAKE: JESSE SIMONTON, VOLQUEST.COM

“Butch Jones is on the hot seat. Butch Jones’ job is safe. It’s weird, but both statements remain true, even at the same time. Tennessee’s stunning loss at Florida on Saturday definitely further agitated an already angry mob of Vol fans. Tennessee had better players than Florida, but it found yet another devastating way to lose to its division rival. From calling seven pass plays to zero runs inside the 9-yard line, to juggling kickers and not playing prevent defense on the final play, Tennessee’s coaching staff — led by Jones — didn’t put its players in the best position to win. This has been a criticism of Jones for several years now. Execution, not effort, is the issue. The Vols have lost seven games by a touchdown or less in the last two-plus years. The fans want more. They expect better. And yet, they’re not making the call here.

“New athletics director John Currie watched Saturday’s spiral from the sidelines in The Swamp. He knows where this program was before Jones arrived, and to date, the administration remains behind Jones. Fan support is absolutely dwindling. For many, any goodwill was gone after the losses to South Carolina and Vanderbilt last season. But Currie, brand new to the job, isn’t going to fire Jones unless the 2017 season spirals out worse than a 63-yard Hail Mary at the buzzer.”

SECOND TAKE: MIKE FARRELL, RIVALS.COM

“There were a lot of people going into the season thinking if he went 7-5 he’d get another year, expecting 8-4 but accepting 7-5. It’s really important how you lose and Saturday was flat-out embarrassing. Everything from the missed field goals to lack of execution in the red zone to the ridiculousness of the last play, that’s the type of loss that could really ramp up the hot seat. It’s as hot as it’s been.”

Edit
,