December 17th, 2013 11:45 AM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: South Carolina, Tennessee
Tags: Butch Jones, Phillip Fulmer, SEC, UT
The record was the same. Tennessee finished 5-7 in Butch Jones’ first year, same as Derek Dooley’s record in his final season in Knoxville. But that’s just about where the comparisons end between the Vols’ new coach and their old one.
“I think Butch Jones has verified everything that we thought he would bring to the team. He has galvanized all of our constituents. He’s a tireless worker with unlimited energy, it seems. I’m very pleased with where the program is headed…
We very much have the same goals, the same priorities. That won’t be a snap-your-fingers and it’s done (fix). But eventually there’s no question we’ll get to our destination…
I see (the players’) understanding of what it’s going to take to get the program back where we all want it. And we will get it back to where we all want it.”
That will be easier said than done. Phillip Fulmer went a decade without an SEC crown and suffered through two losing seasons in his last four as the talent level at UT dipped. Lane Kiffin then tried to put out the fire with gasoline, annihilating the Volunteer roster by leaving after only one season. A panicked hire of Dooley — a coach with a losing record at Louisiana Tech — and Jones took over a program lacking depth, talent and speed on its roster. He also inherited a fanbase that ran out of patience long before his arrival.
But Tennessee got a “signature” win with the SEC’s biggest upset of the year over South Carolina. The team’s academics improved as the school narrowly avoided APR-related sanctions. Jones has won over ex-Vol lettermen who were practically banned from campus under Kiffin and Dooley. And most importantly, he’s done a good enough job selling UT’s history and facilities to build the nation’s #2 ranked recruiting class.
Still, coaches are judged by wins and Volunteer fans aren’t likely to enjoy what will probably be another six- or seven-loss team next year. If Jones can weather some unfair grumbling, his third team should begin to show improvement in 2015. At that point, we’ll begin to see if Hart is right about the man he hired last December.
|Post Comments »||Comments (4)|