Sunday, December 17, 2017

The NFL's Asinine Catch Rule Strikes Again

In what was shaping up to be one of the best NFL games of the year, the refs, in what has become a common theme this season, crapped themselves at the worst possible moment. The application of the asinine catch rules at the end of the Steelers-Patriots game potentially just swayed the home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
In no way am I a Pittsburgh fan, but what kind of a crap ass call was that? On first and goal with 34 seconds left in the game, and with the Steelers trailing 27-24, Ben Roethlisberger made a nice throw to his tight end Jesse James, who received the ball, possessed it with two hands, and had both feet and his knee make contact with the ground. As he was falling to the ground, he stretched the ball out and broke the plane. Why the hell isn’t the play over at that point? Because of the worst, dumbest, contrary-to-everything-we’ve-ever-been-told-and-watched-growing-up rules about what a catch is. As James made contact with the ground, the ball was jarred loose slightly, causing him to lose control of the ball for a fraction of a second. After initially being called a touchdown on the field, the officials went to the replay booth and overturned the call, instead ruling it an incompletion. Why? Because apparently, for it to be a reception in the NFL, you have to possess the football, tuck it away, take 47 steps, do five barrel rolls on the ground, take the ball home, make love to it, and then let it meet your mother and father. 

Sure, Pittsburgh made their share of mistakes. They let New England score 11 straight points in a 3 minute span, and they had no answer for Rob Gronkowski all day. And Big Ben made one of the worst throws of the season on their last offensive play when he tried to force the ball into triple coverage, which led to the game-ending interception. But at the end of the game, they made the plays to win the game. Ju Ju Smith-Schuster’s 69 yard catch and run got them inside the ten, and then they followed it up by having James CATCH THE BALL AND BREAK THE PLANE WITH IT.
We’ve seen this dumb rule time and time and time and time again cost teams games late. Remember the Calvin Johnson “catch” that got waved off at the end of a regular season game a few years ago? Or the Dez Bryant “catch” that was overturned? You know, the one that cost the Cowboys a playoff game? How were neither of these catches? We have eyes, we can see what’s possession and what isn’t. Why add the extra “complete the process of the catch” language? It’s completely unnecessary.

And here’s the other thing; why was this Geronimo Allison reception from today, where he took two steps and had the ball knocked out, ruled a catch, but James’s wasn’t? In one instance, a player caused the ball to be jarred loose, while in James’s case, the ground did. So it’s ok for a person to knock the ball out after two steps, but not the ground? How does that make any sense?

And how about this; if I’m a runner, the play is over if I cross into the end zone with the ball. But if someone swiped the pigskin out half a second after I broke the plane, they wouldn’t call it a fumble. So why doesn’t the same thing apply to receivers? Why isn’t it a touchdown if I cross the plane with two feet down and possession of the football? Why do I need to survive the ground? Again, how does that make any sense?

The NFL has a lot of issues right now; anthem protests, terrible officiating, an inept commissioner, declining ratings, and a salary cap structure that incentivizes teams to dump average veteran players in favor of younger, cheaper guys, which has helped to significantly drop the level of play on the field the last decade. With all of this going on, the league really can’t also afford to be challenging our intelligence as well at the same time. 
So here’s a simple rule change: to make a catch, all you need to do is possess the football and have either both feet or one knee or an equivalent body part down in bounds. That’s it. It’s really not that difficult. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Tennessee Ends Their Circus Of A Coaching Search By Hiring Jeremy Pruitt

After three and half weeks of wild speculation, fan base rejection, outrage, confusion, and media hyperbole, the zaniest coaching search in the history of coaching searches is finally over, as Tennessee has officially hired Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.
On the one hand, I suppose we should judge all of these hires compared to Greg Schiano, the bag of crap the Vols originally tried to sell us. So if that's the standard, then Pruitt is unquestionably the better hire. Both he and Schiano are defensive-minded coaches, but Pruitt is 8 years younger, is perennially one of the best assistants in college football, is considered a phenomenal recruiter, and has spent the last decade in either the SEC or at Florida State.
But hiring Pruitt is also a roll of the dice, so much so that he wasn’t even on my radar when this whole thing started, and you would've been hard-pressed to find him near the top of anyone else's either. Even still, there are some positive things surrounding him that I like. Everyone that's worked with him has nothing but praise for the job he does, and the perception among coaches is that he’s ready for an opportunity like the one at Tennessee. Plus, when Nick Saban needed to hire a DC before the 2016 season, he hand-picked Pruitt. That has to mean something right?
Then again, he’s also never been a head coach before, and with that brings a whole lot of questions and uncertainty. Are we sure he’s got the skill set to be wildly successful as the top man? Sure, he could be like Georgia’s Kirby Smart, also a former Saban DC who had never been a head coach before, who got the Bulldogs to the playoff in Year 2. Or he could go up in flames like a zillion other coordinators who took over at big time jobs when they either weren’t ready or didn’t have the natural coaching ability to run a successful program. Pruitt doesn’t have the track record of other guys they were interested in that turned them down, like Mike Leach, Kevin Sumlin, Mike Gundy, or Jeff Brohm.
By the end of Year 2, I think we'll have a pretty good grasp on what kind of a hire he ends up being. Why? Because since the SEC added a championship game in 1992, every coach that captured the conference title won at least 9 games by their second season. I think a 25 year sample size is more than enough of one to make an assertion like that. 
And since I believe this, I'm going to try and not make any sweeping judgments about Pruitt until after the 2019 season. Next year very well might be another tough campaign, as the Vols have a brutal six week stretch that goes like this: Florida, at Georgia, bye week, at Auburn, Alabama, and at South Carolina. Sheesh. No breaks from the schedule makers there. There’s a possibility they, with a still shaky QB and a new offensive system, lose all five of those games.
Is Pruitt going to try and bring Alabama’s physical, pro-style attack to Knoxville? If so, that’s something I could get behind. The Tide have spent the last decade winning the line of scrimmage and bowling over everyone with their powerful running game. But the thing I don’t think Saban has gotten enough credit for over the years is his willingness to take shots down the field. Throughout the game, he’ll slowly and methodically pound the ball on the ground, as he bides his time waiting for the safeties to creep towards the line of scrimmage. And when he gets a matchup one-on-one on the outside, he’ll bomb it down the field to one of his athletes and let them make a play. 
The Tide are a machine though, and the consistency in that attack has been built up over the last decade. Plus, I’m not 100% sure the Vols have the right quarterback on their roster. I respect the hell out of Jarrett Guarantano for the beating he took this season behind an offensive line that was in tatters, but he didn’t exactly do anything that made me think, “Wow, this guy really has a chance to be special”. Is it possible he was betrayed by Tennessee’s offensive staff, a group that was potentially the worst in the Power 5? I suppose that's conceivable. But I wouldn’t be my life on Guarantano being the guy.
Everyone in the media seems to think Pruitt will be able to put together an incredible staff. I hope their right. Whoever Pruitt decides to hire as his offensive coordinator will be the most important decision of his first year on the job. There’s been some buzz surrounding former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze, which would be a nice snag if the Vols could land him. Yes, I know he’s got the “I called hookers from my university cell phone” and "NCAA trouble" baggage, but I’m not asking him to be the leader of my program, I just need him to call awesome plays and help develop the quarterbacks. And if he doesn't have any sanctions from his time at Ole Miss following him, then I don't see why the Tennessee wouldn't want him. But if the Vols can’t get him, we know, at least according to reports, that Tee Martin won’t be coming to join Pruitt’s staff either. I love Tee, and he helped bring a national championship to Rocky Top, but if you believe the local media in Los Angeles, Martin is, while serviceable, not viewed as an elite OC.
One more thing: Pruitt is going to continue coaching Alabama until their season is over while also attempting to get everything ready for his first season in Knoxville. I’d be more concerned, except Kirby Smart did the same thing two years ago with the Tide, and it seems to have worked out at Georgia so far.

Despite all my reservations, it’s going to be nice to see someone standing on the podium in front of everyone gladly accepting this coaching position. I want Pruitt to be wildly successful. I’ll be rooting like hell for him. And I think there’s a very good chance he’ll do a great job in Knoxville. At least I hope he does, because my heart can’t go through another decade-long stretch like it just did. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

It's Time To Bring Lane Home

Tennessee’s latest coaching search has been a wild ride of incompetence and tomfoolery. Here’s a recap of the last two and half weeks:
  • Tennessee Athletic Director John Currie fired Butch Jones on November 12th. At the press conference that announced Butch’s firing, Currie revealed that he wouldn't be hiring a search firm, that the search was his top priority, and that he’d be looking to hire a candidate with integrity.
  • The next two weeks play out.. interestingly. Jon Gruden, who is apparently so insecure he needs to be reminded how beautiful and great he is, intentionally trolled the fan base for two weeks. Chip Kelly turned down both Tennessee and Florida and went to UCLA. Dan Mullen rejected the Vols and went back to the Gators, his former employer. A million other names were floated.
  • On Sunday, in a move that was puzzling as hell, Currie, who is unquestionably the most incompetent athletic director in the country, decided it would be a good idea to hire Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano. This of course, was a terrible hire, because Schiano had a just a 68-67 record at Rutgers, was 20 games below .500 in the Big East, and faced a team mutiny during his second year in Tampa because the locker room hated him so much. He was basically the Butch Jones of the defensive side of the ball. No other big time school was clamoring to have Schiano as they're head coach, which made it strange as to why Tennessee was doing what they were doing. Oh yeah, and his name was also dropped in court documents alleging that he knew about the Sandusky scandal at Penn State. A fan revolt ensued, so passionately that Currie ended up pulling Tennessee’s contract offer, despite the fact that both sides had originally signed a memorandum of understanding.
  • On Tuesday, after 48 hours of the national media trashing Tennessee fans as unrealistic and idiot loon bags, Oklahoma’s Mike Gundy and his mullet agreed to interview with the Vols. Tennessee went all in here; they offered him $42 million over 6 years, and they even had Peyton Manning call Gundy and make the pitch. One problem: Gundy had flirted with the Vols before, back in 2012, and used that "mutual interest" as a way to get a pay raise from T. Boone Pickens and the Cowboys. S when he turned them down again that night, it became pretty obvious it was just another smooth move to get more security from Oklahoma State.
  • On Wednesday, it was reported by Jimmy Hyams that Tennessee would soon be coming to an agreement with Purdue’s Jeff Brohm, a young up an comer who, by all accounts, runs a fun, inventive offense. Of course, that turned out to not be the case, because according to Clay Travis, this was what actually happened.
    Some at Tennessee pushed back against that though, saying that Brohm and Currie actually never even met face-to-face, and that they had only had one phone conversation. They also claimed that they’d never even made an offer to Brohm, and that N.C. State’s Dave Doeren was the focus. So either Currie made another colossal screw up, or the Vols are stupid enough to think Doeren was actually potentially a great hire. I mean, I don’t know about you guys, but when you can get a coach who has gone 33-30 at N.C. State, and 15-25 in ACC play, you gotta do it. Plus, it’d be a “huge” improvement over Butch’s 34-27 at Tennessee and 14-24 in SEC play. Butch finished ranked in the Top 25 twice in five seasons; Doeren finished ranked once. Plus, and I kid you not, Doeren actually said this one time: “We have a saying around here: ‘every man a brick and together, a wall’. We have a brick squad, and the brick squad warrior is the guy that exemplifies all the things we embody in our workouts”.  Hmmm.. that sounds really familiar…..
  • Today, after he received a contract offer from Tennessee and a raise and extension from N.C. State, Doeren decided to return to the Wolfpack. Thank god.

Of course, due to his fortunate rejection, the Vols still have no idea who their next football coach is going to be. I think I've got the perfect name for them though, because I can’t think of a better way to end this circus of a coaching search than by… bringing back Lane Kiffin.
I’m 100% serious, and I don’t even think this is a controversial take. At this point, why wouldn’t you? Which realistic coaching option out there is definitely better than Kiffin? He passes the swinging balls bravado test, he’s a hell of an offensive coach, and he can recruit his ass off.
For the longest time, I hated Kiffin, and I never in a million years would’ve considered him a serious candidate two weeks ago. But with as bad as Currie has botched this coaching search, and the negative fan base reaction because of it, Kiffin seems like one of the few people who could drop in there, get a huge pop with fan base, and exist comfortably in the frenzied Knoxville environment.
Think about this; let’s just say Kiffin never coached Tennessee, but instead pulled a one-and-done at somewhere like Georgia. Wouldn’t Vol fans be all about him? Look at his history; he’s just 42, he was USC’s OC from 2005-06, he was picked by Nick Saban to run Alabama’s offense, and he had a 9-3 first year in this season at FAU, a program that went 3-9 in 2016. Plus, as mentioned before, he’s a brilliant offense mind, and an ace recruiter.
I understand he flamed out at USC when he was the head coach there from 2010-13, but they were on probation when he arrived, yet he was still able to pull off a 10 win season in 2011. Of course, he was only in his thirties, and when he started to struggle, he'd already made too many enemies. I just don’t think he was mature enough or ready to be a coach at a big time program like that. But now? He’s in his early forties, and he had to benefit of working with a drill sergeant like Nick Saban, who is perhaps the greatest college football coach of all time. He’s not some dope like Derek Dooley or Sal Sunseri, who we mistakenly thought would’ve contracted Saban’s brilliance through osmosis, because he’s already a smart guy. Working with Saban could only have been a benefit for him.
Again, I get it. He left Tennessee at the altar. He’s the stripper of college football. He’s the motorcycle boyfriend. We’d never be able to trust him, and he's been trolling Tennessee all week, with images like this one.

But Tennessee shouldn’t be hiring a coach thinking he’s going to be there for 15 years. If you hire Lane Kiffin, you might only get four years. You could get just three. But however long or short it was, it’d be a fun ride, full of smack talk, trolling every other SEC team and fan base, and most importantly, wins. Remember his first year in Knoxville, when he destroyed both Georgia and South Carolina, and was a blocked field goal on the final play away from beating Alabama at Bryant-Denny? Why not bring that back? Who of the available candidates are we sure is better than Kiffin? Les Miles is in his sixties, lost his last five games against Saban, and spent his entire tenure running a boring offense where they basically ran the ball into the line of scrimmage and fell down. I would’ve taken him five years ago. But not now. Kevin Sumlin is intriguing, but he had his best two years with Johnny Manziel, and lost five games each of his last four seasons at A&M. Also none of his teams ever played even competent defense. Tee Martin would please the fan base, because of the coming home story, but he’s never been a head coach before, and only an offensive coordinator the last two years. He probably needs more seasoning before he could realistically handle a job like Tennessee. SMU’s Chad Morris is also an alleged target, but he’s just 14-22 in three years there. Ugh.

Which is why it’s time to bring the Orange Knight home. The Lane Train is coming into the station. Let's all get on.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

So... Who Exactly Is Getting The Tennessee Job?

It’s been two days since Tennessee fans and Vol Twitter killed the Greg Schiano hire, for reasons both on the field and off it. It was an absolutely incredible and confusing Sunday, and one that has led to the future of Tennessee football being thrown into chaos. I spent all day either refreshing Twitter or searching “Greg Schiano” in Google, as I watched the story devolve from “Schiano and Tennessee are working on a contract” to “Due to fan outrage, both sides are getting squeamish” to finally “Tennessee has pulled their contract offer”.
I tried to capture everything I was feeling from that day in my first ever Facebook Live video.
The bigger question now though is where do they go from here? Since Tennessee backed out of the deal, it's been reported that their is now pressure on John Currie from the Vol administration to resign. Then there was the report that Tennessee may owe Schiano money since they both signed a memorandum of understanding. But then it came out that UT Chancellor Beverley Davenport hadn’t signed the MOU. Could Schiano still sue? Is Currie getting fired? Is Currie’s statement yesterday about this entire fiasco further evidence that he’s an out-of-touch loser?

I wondered aloud a few weeks ago, when Butch Jones was still the head coach, how it was possible that Tennessee had ended up with the Butch Jones of football coaches AND the Butch Jones of athletic directors. After the events of Sunday and the last two weeks, it's not even a clever joke anymore,  just the sad, depressing reality of the current state of the Tennessee athletic department.
Of course, they still have to hire a head coach, a task that has become significantly more difficult, due to Currie’s incompetence and the fan base outcry. Former Vol offensive coordinator and current Duke head coach David Cutcliffe, a guy I wouldn’t have wanted anyway, reportedly turned them down. Purdue’s Jeff Brohm was a name that popped up in a few places yesterday. Lane Kiffin tweeted about how he “wasn’t waiting by the phone” for them to call, and SI’s Bruce Feldman reported that there was a good chance they’d offer the job to current USC OC and former Tennessee national championship winning quarterback Tee Martin. And most recently, Jimmy Hyams reported that Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy was the focus of their search. Other names, according to Hyams, include SMU’s Chad Morris, Auburn’s defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, Alabama DC Jeremy Pruitt, Clemson DC Brent Venables, and Memphis’s Mike Norvell.
There’s a lot to unpack here. I have no idea if Gundy is actually interested, and he allegedly turned Tennessee down in 2012, but if he’s serious about leaving OK State then he’s the unquestioned best and most qualified candidate. To me, Mike Norvell and Jeff Brohm are indistinguishable from each other, and I’d have the exact same reaction to them being hired. I wouldn’t want Chad Morris, who is a paltry 14-22 in three seasons at SMU. Pruitt and Venables have never been head coaches before, though they’ve been great coordinators, while Steele, a Tennessee alum, hasn’t been a head coach since he went 9-36 at Baylor from 1999-2002.
Personally, I two guys with the most connection to the program, Kiffin and Martin, are the most interesting candidates outside of Gundy. I don’t think there’s any chance Kiffin actually gets the job, because hiring him would be like going back to your cheating ex-significant other. How could you ever trust him/her again? He’s like a stripper or a guy with a motorcycle; you like them because they’re dangerous, brash, and wild, but you wouldn’t exactly be comfortable bringing them home to mom. Of course, he does have the endorsement of Johnny Majors, for what that’s worth.
Before this search started, Tee Martin would’ve been like my 15th choice. The guy has only been an OC for two seasons, and any success he’s had could just be a product of Sam Darnold’s brilliance. In fact, in the only three games he’s called WITHOUT Darnold, USC scored just 23 points. Of all the coaching candidates the Vols could get, Martin is by far the most inexperienced. We just don’t know.
There are certainly benefits to hiring Martin. You can’t find anyone who says a negative thing about his character, he’d understand the fish bowl nature of Knoxville, and he’s an ace recruiter. Plus, he’s a familiar name on Rocky Top, a beloved player coming back home to revitalize a once proud program. He’d be welcomed back into the program with kid gloves…. at least at the beginning. Plus, if he was able to get things turned around at Tennessee, he’d arguably become the greatest Vol of all time. As the National Championship winning quarterback, he’s already in the pantheon of Tennessee greats; but if he became a wildly successful head coach, he’d leap past all of them. Manning, Majors, Fulmer, John Ward, Reggie White, hell maybe even General Neyland. There’d be 5 million streets named after him, there’d be statues built, and he’d become a hero. Or, more tragically, due to his inexperience and potential lack of proper skillset to run a major college program, he could go up in flames. For every Dabo Swinney and Bob Stoops (young guys that had never been a head coach before, took over a big time program, and won a lot of games), there’s 5 million guys like that who fail. Things can fall apart quickly at Tennessee. Is Martin up for it? We have no way of knowing.

If I had to guess who’d get the job, I’d say… Martin. Gundy has been a tease before, I don’t see why this time would be any different. Plus, there’s momentum for him among the fan base that didn’t exist two weeks ago (and we've seen how powerful the fan base has become). And if all the other candidates are scared off by what's happened the last few days (and I think they might've been), or aren't significantly more experienced (besides Gundy and Kiffin, they aren't), then I think they'll roll the dice with Martin and hope for the best.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Tennessee Craps Their Pants, Hires Greg Schiano

Tennessee just made the worst hire in school history. After weeks of speculation about who the Vols would land, they absolutely crapped themselves and hired Ohio State’s defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, a guy who, at Rutgers from 2001-11, was 68-67 overall and 20 games below .500 in conference play. He also had a two season-stint with the Tampa Bay Bucs that ended after two years and an 11-21 record. Oh yeah, and when he was an assistant at Penn State, he allegedly knew about Jerry Sandusky and did nothing.
Everything about this search was “Butch’d”, and John Currie should be fired. Greg F-ing Schiano? Are you kidding me? I’d rather have kept Butch Jones! I’d rather promote Brady Hoke! What the hell?
Some of the names were so lofty, and probably attainable. Gruden was just a tease, Chip Kelly allegedly turned them down, and Dan Mullen is going back to Florida, but how about anyone else? Even if you had to settle for an unproven guy, they would’ve been better than this. Did you call Memphis's Mike Norvell? Purdue's Jeff Brohm?
Currie is such a hypocrite too. My god. During his “Butch is fired” presser, he talked a lot about how important it was for the next coach at Tennessee to be a man of integrity. He mentioned this several times, which makes me wonder WHY THE HELL HE’D TURN AROUND AND HIRE A GUY THAT KNEW ABOUT CHILD SEX ABUSE AND DID NOTHING?????
And how the hell do you hire Schiano, knowing that the fan base was absolutely going to hate the choice? You hire Jeff Brohm and we all roll our eyes and bitch and moan, but everyone would eventually get behind him and talk themselves into him because he’s a young up and comer who runs an exciting offense. Oh yea, AND HE ALSO DOESN’T HAVE ANY ALLEGATIONS AGAINST HIM THAT HE HELPED COVER UP CHILD SEX ABUSE.
Seriously, this is the worst hire they possibly could’ve made. And it’s just typical Tennessee. All my life they’ve screwed around and hired chumps who get their teeth kicked in every year by Alabama and Florida. They’re a big money athletic department that goes cheap at every turn and hires the worst possible candidates. Who is stupid enough to continue be a fan of this crap?
If they were so intent on hiring a coordinator, then how about Clemson’s defensive coordinator Brent Venables?  Or Alabama’s Jeremy Pruitt? Neither of them would be in my top 10 choices, but again, AT LEAST THEY DIDN’T HELP COVER UP CHILD SEX ABUSE.
Tennessee sucks and I hate myself for wasting all of this time rooting for an athletic department that’s run by idiots who crap themselves anytime they have to make an important decision. Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, Michigan, Texas, USC, etc. would never make THREE bad hires in a row like this. What the hell is Tennessee’s problem?
I don’t know how next year will go. I really don’t. I can’t even think about it because this is such a terrible hire. A .500 coach who helped cover up child sex abuse. What’s the upside? What are the positives?
Everyone was wrong. Yesterday’s beatdown by a 5-7 Vanderbilt team wasn’t rock bottom. This is. We have an incompetent, hypocritical athletic director, a .500 coach with child sex abuse coverup baggage, no bowl game, no QB of the future, an extremely tough 2018 football schedule, and fan base morale as low as it’s ever been. This is what rock bottom is.

Let’s hope the basketball team is good and can distract us. At least until spring practice starts.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Is Butch Jones The Worst Coach In The History Of Tennessee Football?

The only good thing about Tennessee’s 2017 football season is that it's now over. A year that started with a promising 42-41 double overtime victory against Georgia Tech ended on the sourest of notes, a beatdown at the hands of a 4-7 Vanderbilt team. Yesterday's 42-24 defeat assured the first 8 loss season AND winless conference record in program history.
There’s nothing to be excited about with Tennessee, other a new coach, though that could also be another low point, depending on how the search is resolved. 
A couple of “high”lights from 2017:
  • The Vols have now lost their last game against every SEC opponent.
  • Tennessee finished the season with 3,255 yards of total offense, last in the SEC, and 3,123 punting yards, the second most in the conference. For comparison, Auburn had 1,631 punting yards and 5,235 yards of total offense, Alabama had 1,638 punting yards and 5,271 yards of total offense, and Georgia 1,915 punting yards and 4,745 yards of total offense.
  • They were outscored 278-113 in conference games.
  • The now infamous 15+ quarters offensive TD drought.
  • They had three different starting quarterbacks this year, none of whom are the definitive QB of the future.
  • The turnover garbage can that suddenly disappeared sometime in September and was never heard from again.
  • They lost lost to Georgia and Alabama by a combined score of 86-7
  • “The best bye week in the history of the program” that led to a 9 point effort against South Carolina.
  • “Leadership Reps”
  • John Kelly got busted for marijuana possession. 
  • Jauan Jennings released a profanity-laced Instagram video where he screamed like an oafish fool and called the coaching staff "snakes" and "liars". This led to his dismissal from the team.

  • They gave up a Hail Mary to Feleipe F%#^*# Franks.

  • The entire team quit on the season after the Kentucky game, which led to them getting outscored 122-41 in their last three conference showdowns.
  • The greatest play of the season was Rashaan Gaulden’s double birds into the Alabama crowd, which would've been cooler if it didn't happen when they were down by three touchdowns.

I mean, I could go on for days, but you get the point; everything that happened this season was terrible. It’s the worst season in program history by any measure.
This, of course, has left everyone in Vol Nation both depressed and pissed, which in turn has caused several of them to hop onto social media and go after Butch Jones by saying he was the worst coach in school history. Look…. I was as frustrated with Butch as much as anyone, and he certainly gets a lot of blame for how this season turned out, but the worst ever? Have we forgotten how bad Dooley years were?
Let me remind you: Dooley’s three year run was an absolute nightmare. No bowl wins, three seven loss seasons, 13 men on the field against LSU, and an 0-9 record against Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. He didn’t sign a single offensive lineman in his last recruiting class, and he was prominently involved in the Vols having their 26 year winning streak against Kentucky snapped. His entire tenure was a horrifying lesson of what happens when you promote someone with a position coach skill set to be the head coach of a major college football team. Frankly, this picture sums up the Dooley years perfectly.

I can’t believe I’m defending Butch here, but the guy did win three straight bowl games AND finish with back-to-back 9-4 seasons, albeit with 11-1 talent. But Dooley absolutely destroyed the program, tarnished its reputation nationally, and hollowed it out from a talent perspective. Butch’s platitudes eventually made him a laughingstock in the national and local media, and made him reviled within the fan base, but at least he drastically raised the talent level in the program AND beat Florida and Georgia a combined three times. What’s a positive from the Dooley era? The time he wore orange pants?
I’d even argue Kiffin was worse than Butch. Lane left the school in the middle of the night right before signing day, which was what led to the emergency Dooley hiring. Plus, almost none of the players Kiffin recruited in his only class lasted beyond the 2010 season. There’s this revisionist history that’s popped up over the last few years that Tennessee was somehow wrong to fire Fulmer, and that’s why they're in this position now. That take is, of course, ludicrous. The program had deteriorated by the end of ’08 season, and moving on from Fulmer at that time was the right call. Hiring Kiffin, only to have him stab them in the back about a year later, was really the point where everything started to go south.
As I said before, I think the entire team quit on the 2017 season after they blew that winnable Kentucky game. That one, where they dominated the time of possession, outgained the Wildcats, and won the turnover battle, was a total back-breaker and season-ender. They just didn’t have any energy or desire after that, and it showed on the field, as they slogged through the month of November to a frightening degree, so much so that I could’ve sworn I saw Pete Rose and the Black Sox on the sidelines. Does Butch take the blame for them quitting? To a certain degree, yes, but you’d think this group of athletes would have enough pride to show up for the seniors and try and win the last two games of the season, particularly when Butch was removed after the Mizzou game. If they hated his guts so much that they quit on him, then where was the effort once he was gone? Everything that happened the last two weeks should fall squarely on the shoulders of guys in the locker room. Butch didn’t call one play, drop one pass, miss one block, or create a single game plan the last two weeks. Did he create the negative atmosphere around the program? Yes. But the players in the locker room didn't show up the last month, and it was embarrassing.

This season sucked. I’m glad it’s over. Let’s hope 2017 becomes a faint memory, like a traumatic childhood experience, something that we can all get over in a few years when the new coach (hopefully) takes the program back to where we all want it to be. Those chances look a lot slimmer though, when John Currie announces tomorrow that Greg Schiano is the new coach. Geez... please don't let that happen.

Friday, November 24, 2017

With The Coaching Search Apparently Coming To A Close Soon, Who Is Getting The Tennessee Job?

Tennessee is set to finish off today against Vanderbilt what could potentially be, with a loss, the worst season in school history. The Vols lost their first 7 SEC games, they fired Butch Jones, they don't have a guaranteed quarterback of the future, and the fan base morale, already at the lowest it’s been in my lifetime, could plummet to near suicidal levels if John Currie screws up this coaching hire.
I don’t have much to say about the Vanderbilt game. Tennessee should win because they’re at home and they have more talent, but finishing 5-7 for the fifth time in the last ten seasons is something that would’ve been unthinkable for Tennessee fans ten years ago.
Which is why everyone is trying to bury this year in the deepest darkest bowels of their mind and focus solely on the coaching search, which is, at this point, been nothing but speculation, Twitter rumors, and wishful thinking. Jon Brice’s report yesterday that the search would be wrapped up within the next few days has only made everyone more anxious.
So where have we been with this important decision the last two weeks? In the immediate aftermath of Butch being fired, a large majority of the fan base did everything BUT make an animal sacrifice at the altar of Jon Gruden, all while allowing themselves to be trolled into oblivion by a guy who just wanted his ego stroked and his ass kissed. Gruden, in my view, has been overstated as a coach, and his reputation was enhanced beyond what it should have been because he’s been out of coaching and in the broadcast booth for a decade. The truth is, he only won about 50% of his NFL games, and in his last 6 years in Tampa, the Bucs only made the playoffs twice, and lost their first game twice as a home favorite. He’d be expensive, he hasn't been in college coaching since 1991, and besides a likable personality, I'm not sure he has any other elite coaching or leadership skills.
Which brings us to Jimbo Fisher. I’d love to have Fisher, but all indications are that if he was going to leave Florida State, it'd be for Texas A&M. Personally, I don’t think Fisher is leaving FSU, and he’s just allowing his name to be floated as a check against the administration in Tallahassee who would allegedly expect him to make a ton of coaching changes in the off-season. Fisher holds all the power here; if the school chose to fire him, they’d owe him $40 MILLION. This is just another maneuver by him to pull more power to himself during a season where everything has gone wrong for the Seminoles.
Chip Kelly is apparently off the table, perhaps for everyone. Reportedly, he turned Tennessee down, and thankfully, Florida has also moved on. UCLA still remains extremely interested. Here’s something I wouldn’t rule out though: if Oregon’s Willie Taggert takes another job (like Arkansas or Ole Miss), I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Kelly went back to Eugene. Why not? He’s already dominated there, the fan base would be all about him, and he and Phil Knight have an extremely close relationship. It'd be a slam dunk.
So who is left? Who would the fan base be all-in on? I think we’re down to two names Rocky Top would accept without question: Dan Mullen and Chris Petersen. I don’t have a feel for what Mullen would do, besides that he’s reportedly, “interested” in the job, whatever that means. I’m sure he’s also “interested” in the Florida job, now that Chip is no longer an option. And we aren’t even sure he’s interviewed with Currie for the job yet. And if Currie is making a decision by the end of the weekend, then we only have two options:
  • Mullen isn’t getting the job.
  • Currie is planning on offering Mullen the job when they interview, and he’s either fairly certain that he’d accept it, or he’s got a promise from another candidate that he’d take it if offered.

Mullen would be a fine choice that would have a chance to do a great job if hired. But if these Chris Petersen rumors are true, then he'd be my unquestioned first choice of the available candidates. Petersen’s reps allegedly reached out to Tennessee, he has a low $1.5 million buyout, and he’s been a fantastic head coach at both Boise State and Washington. Since 2006, his first year at Boise, he’s been a roaring success, as he's gone 128-28, won 6 conference championships, and finished in the Top 10 five times. Sure, Petersen is a northwestern guy who has never coached anywhere with near as much pressure as Tennessee, but I’d be willing to roll the dice on a guy with that track record. Plus, the media pressure and fan base angst won’t be unbearably high if he shows up next year and wins 9 games, which is totally doable with the talent that’s currently in place.
But if this Petersen things turns out to be a lie, and they don’t get Mullen either, then where do they go? Washington State’s Mike Leach is probably too kooky, Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck just signed a contract extension, Ohio State’s defensive coordinator Greg Schiano loses the press conference, and Colorado State’s Mike Bobo gets Currie fired the moment he’s announced. UCF’s Scott Frost is probably more interested in Florida or his alma mater Nebraska, and Iowa State’s Matt Campbell, while impressive this season, probably isn’t quite seasoned enough. Memphis’s Mike Norvell, SMU’s Chad Morris, and Purdue’s Jeff Brohm are all unproven, and only Brohm is at a Power 5 job.

I have no idea what to think. This Petersen stuff has given me hope over the last 24 hours, but I wouldn’t bet my life on it happening. And the fact that Mullen and Currie haven’t definitely met yet makes me think that isn’t happening either. And if I’ve learned anything being a Tennessee fan the last decade, it’s to always expect the worst. Which means it's going to be Greg Schiano. God please don't let that be the outcome here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Is There Anything To The #grumors? Jimbo? Chip Kelly?

Since Tennessee fired Butch Jones on Sunday, I’ve only changed my mind on who his most likely replacement will be about 5 million times. On Monday, as stories like, “Jon Gruden is calling potential assistants to see if they want to join his staff at Tennessee” and “Gruden is flying around for free on the Haslam’s private plane” began to break, I started thinking there was a lot more to the #grumors that I originally thought. But then, yesterday it was reported that Gruden wasn’t interested in the job, and that he HADN’T been calling potential assistants. And then Paul Finebaum said that  a source close to Gruden told him that Gruden wasn’t interested in coaching again. All of which made me think there was nothing to the #grumors. But then today, on Mike and Mike, when asked about the Tennessee job, Gruden gave an ambiguous answer that ended with him saying “never say never to nothing”. A triple negative? Hell, maybe he has been talking to and picking up speech patterns from John Currie, who dropped a double negative two weeks ago when he told Bob Kesling that the surgeons creed was, “there’s no problem that you can’t make worse by operating”.

And then there’s Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, who has allowed his name to be floated out there as a potential replacement for a few jobs. Texas A&M, who still employs Kevin Sumlin, has apparently been flirting with him, and a story broke yesterday from “multiple sources” that he’d be interested in listening to what Tennessee had to offer. Whatever that means.
Dan Mullen gave a non-committal answer when asked about his interest in the UT job, and it was reported that the Vols were interested New York Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers, who would, of course, be an absolute disastrous hire.
And finally, Chip Kelly, who, if you believe Twitter, was already supposed to be announced as Florida’s new coach by now. There was the story about how the tag number of a University of Florida plane was apparently flagged before it was on its way to Connecticut, which, as far as I’m concerned, was debunked when Florida’s AD Scott Stricklin tweeted out a selfie of himself in a UF classroom during the time that flight was supposed to be happening.

All of which brings me to this: I don’t believe any of these “sources” that claim to have the “inside scoop” on what’s going on at these major universities. Why would @volfan1998 or @gatorsforlife who has 25 Twitter followers be more connected to the innerworkings of the program than someone like Jimmy Hyams, a guy who has literally been at Tennessee practice every single day for decades? This Chip Kelly-to-Florida and Jon Gruden-to-Tennessee stuff very well may happen, but it won’t be because a random UF student tweeted out that he saw Kelly riding on a golf cart with “men in suits” on campus, or because someone claimed they saw Gruden house hunting this weekend in Blount County. I think John Currie is going to keep this one as close to the vest as possible, and he basically said as much during the presser where Butch's firing was announced. I think it's a good idea to be skeptical of most everything unless we here it directly from his mouth.
So what can we know for certain? Not much at this point I don’t think. Like sure, I bet Tennessee has reached out to Gruden. According to reliable sources (like Hyams), they have in the past, and I don’t see why they wouldn’t this time around. Is he super interested? I have no idea. Maybe he just likes the chase, and being wined and dined and told how great he is. I certainly wouldn’t bet on him taking the job now though. And I’m not even sure he’s the best possible choice!
This is what I wrote about Gruden and Tennessee about a month ago:
 Honestly, I’m torn on Gruden. There’s no denying he has an enormous, room-filling personality, one that would definitely allow him to sell the program big-time to everyone from a 17 year old recruit to that recruit’s mother to the media to a big time booster. But he’s also been out of the coaching grind for almost a decade now. Does he still have the desire to bust his ass like that again? I’m not saying he doesn’t work hard now, but his life is certainly much simpler now than it was when he was coaching. He basically prepares for one game a week by watching film, with the pressure to win completely removed. He then interviews the head coach and a few players from each team, and then helps call the game on Monday night. He repeats this cycle for 16 consecutive weeks. And when that’s over, he sits down with incoming quarterback prospects for “Gruden’s QB Camp”, turns up the craziness to over 10,000, creates a few soundbites, and then goes home. Oh yeah, and he makes millions of dollars a year to do this. I mean… why would you give that up if you didn’t have to? Tennessee is going to be expecting him to work much, much harder than he currently is, with significantly more pressure, while being unable to pay him all that much more than what he’s making now. Does he still have the fire in his belly? Maybe? He’s been out for a decade though, and besides Dick Vermeil, I can’t think of someone who has been out of coaching for that amount of time who jumped back into it and became wildly successful. And even Vermeil went back into the pros, where he'd been before. Gruden has never been a college head coach, and hasn't been on a college staff since 1991. And it’s not like he was Vince Lombardi, Tom Landry, or Bill Belichick when he was in the NFL. When he won the Super Bowl in his first year with Tampa in 2002, it was because he had one of the greatest defenses of all time, a group that he did basically nothing to help assemble. Then, he watched that team turn around and finish 7-9 and 5-11 the next two years, as they fell apart due to personality and chemistry issues. In his last six seasons with the Bucs, the team made the playoffs just twice, and lost in the Wild Card Round both times as a home favorite. He only won 50.9% of his games in Tampa, and couldn’t ever find the right quarterback. Yeah, I get it, he’s the big sexy name because he’s the TV guy, but are we sure he’s a great coach?
And yes, I realize according to Clay Travis, I have a “mosquito dick” for having that take, but I think there’s better, more qualified candidates who are more likely to take the job out there.
Which brings us to Jimbo Fisher. If Jimbo is actually serious about leaving FSU, then Tennessee should give him $8 million a year. Coming into the job, he’d be the most accomplished coach they’ve hired since Johnny Majors. Who is the coach out there that can top this resume?
  • 1 National Championship
  • 1 Appearance in the College Football Playoff
  • 3 ACC Championships
  • 81-23 record at FSU
  • Won at least 10 games in six of his eight years at FSU
  • Seven top 25 finishes, and four top 10 finishes
  • Has over a decade SEC experience at two schools
  • Is an offensive minded coach, something Tennessee desperately needs
  • Is a fantastic recruiter
  • Is in his coaching prime at 52

Again, I have no idea if he’s actually interested or not, but he’s at least allowed his name to be floated out there. It’s definitely been a miserable year in Tallahassee. He lost his starting quarterback in the first game against Alabama, they’ve lost 6 games, he’s got idiot fans yelling at him after losses, and if he does return to FSU next year, it’ll probably be with forced changes to multiple different assistant coaches. Maybe he just needs a fresh start? Tennessee is a great job with fantastic facilities (something Jimbo has grumbled about the Seminoles not having in the past), a talented roster, a massive recruiting budget, and what seems to be an interest to pay whatever it takes to get the right coach. If I was John Currie, and Chip Kelly is going to Florida, and Fisher is interested, then I’d do whatever it takes to get Jimbo in an orange tie. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Who Should Replace Butch Jones At Tennessee? I've Got Five Names

At long last, after years of late game bungles, gut punch losses, blowouts, mind-numbing coach speak, and five hundred too many platitudes, Tennessee has finally done the right thing and fired Butch Jones.
Thank god.
Last week I ripped John Currie and predicted that he was so feckless and inept that he’d allow Butch to hang around for another season. Fortunately, I was wrong, because for the first time since they fired Derek Dooley, Tennessee’s athletic department actually did something sensible.
So what happens now? Where does the program go from here? If I’m John Currie, I'd be on the phone with Chip Kelly right now, making him an offer he can’t refuse. If Chip wants $10 million a year, you write the damn check. Money should be no object in this hire, because Tennessee has screwed around for years going on the cheap hiring chumps like Derek Dooley and Butch Jones. You don’t get to play the, “Oh, we’re going to hire some unknown guy with promise that we HOPE works out” card, because it's been a nightmare and the fan base won't buy the crap anymore. WE'VE ALREADY SEEN THAT MOVIE BEFORE! Plus, we’ve all been paying attention! We’ve seen schools like Alabama, Michigan, and Ohio State go out and choose actual grown up, big boy coaches, and we’ve thought to ourselves, “Wait one damn minute here…. We have similar revenues, facilities, tradition, interest… why are they hiring Saban while we’re ending up with Derek Dooley?” 
It’s time for the Vols to act like the revenue producing monster that they are. Tennessee has private jet, Bruce Wayne/Bill Gates-type money. It’s time to make it rain on a coach like you’re Lil Wayne and Fat Joe.
Plus, and this has been shown a million times before, if you hire the right coach, that guy can win big almost instantly. Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Jim Harbaugh, Dabo Swinney, Bob Stoops, Pete Carroll, and Mark Richt all won at a pretty high level by at least their third year at their most recent job. Tennessee is just as capable of doing that as anyone else... as long as they don't screw this up.
So here’s the final list, and it just has five names on it. If I’m John Currie, I call these names in order and offer whatever it takes. Don’t stop hounding them until they threaten you with police action. Repeat this process down the list until someone says yes.
Chip Kelly
The first person I call. The personnel in Knoxville is similar to what he’d need to run his offense, and outside of Bob Stoops (who isn’t coming) and Jimbo Fisher (yes, Jimbo), there isn’t a more qualified coaching candidate that’s a realistic get for the Vols.
Jimbo Fisher
He’s one of just four active head coaches that have won a national title. Why would he leave FSU? I’m not 100% sure that he would, but he’s also been linked to the Texas A&M and LSU jobs the last two seasons. Plus, thanks to an early season injury to their quarterback Deondre Francois, the ‘Noles are going through their worst campaign in 40 years. It’s not been a fun year in Tallahassee, and there’s even been some run-ins with fans. Maybe Fisher feels under appreciated? Maybe he’s looking to move? Call him up and make him an offer he can’t refuse. If you think he’s the man, outspend and out-promise Florida State. AGAIN, MONEY SHOULD BE NO OBJECT.
Jon Gruden
I’m not necessarily a believer in Gruden, but he’d definitely win the press conference. Plus, it’s a swing for the fences, an all-in push that shows the athletic department is actually serious about trying to contend for championships.
Bob Stoops
He’s not coming, but if the top 4 tell you no (which I don’t expect), you might as well call him up and see if there’s any interest. I don’t expect to see Stoops on the sidelines ever again though.
Dan Mullen
Mullen has spent the last decade transforming Mississippi State from one of the worst programs in the SEC into a frisky, competent team that can contend for a division title. He’s well compensated, but I think he’s hit the ceiling for what’s possible in Starkville. Does he want a new challenge? Does he want a chance to win SEC Championships? National Championships? That can happen in Knoxville.
Kelly is your ceiling and Mullen is your floor, and I’d have serious doubts about anyone else they hired, unless of course they found a way raise the ghost of General Neyland.

Of course, in typical Tennessee fashion, I’m sure they’ll screw this up, go cheap, and introduce Mike Bobo as the new head coach sometime in December. God help us. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Butch Jones Is Going To Be The Tennessee Head Coach In 2018

The frustrating and horrific 2017 season Tennessee is going through has only intensified the already white hot ire from the fan base towards Butch Jones. “Fire Butch” signs are popping up everywhere, and it's impossible to go 30 seconds on social media without seeing something about Butch being an incompetent, in-over-his-head loser. "Fire Butch" is well on it's way to becoming the Vol fan equivalent of "Roll Tide". 
At this point, I really just feel beaten down over the entire situation, powerless to do anything but observe this man "Butcher" four or five winnable games a year. My anger over the entire situation quickly subsided into sadness, which then transitioned into straight up apathy. It’s basically impossible for me to care about anything that’s going on with the Vol program this season. As they celebrated, danced, and show-boated their way to an unimpressive 14 point win over Southern Miss, the only thing I could think about was, “Great, but wouldn't it have been nice to beat Florida!” And when Rashaan Gaulden doubled birded an Alabama fan after Daniel Bituli’s 97 yard interception return two weeks ago, my first thought was, “Hey brah, I appreciate the passion, but you’re down 28-7. Kinda seems hollow and pointless to be doing that now right?”.
No matter how bleak it’s been this season, I've been able to take solace in the fact that there'd be a new coach in Knoxville in 2018. I mean, if your opinion of Butch is anything other than, “He’s a gym teacher and a glorified coordinator who has read one too many Tony Robbins’ books, oh yeah, and he should be fired immediately”, then you’ve probably undergone a forced, Phineas Gage-style lobotomy. There was no way a rational person could look at the Tennessee situation a think everything that had happened the last few years was totally fine and acceptable.
But the fact that he’s still the coach makes me wonder if everyone has been wrong this entire time. We’ve assumed too much. Instead of asking, “When is Butch getting fired?” instead, unfortunately, I think we should be asking, “Are we sure Butch is getting fired?”
Think about it: Look at what he’s survived:
  • 0-5 record against Alabama
  • 1-4 record against Florida
  • 2-3 record against Georgia
  • 2-2 record against Vanderbilt
  • No SEC East Championships in 2015 or 2016 when he had BY FAR the deepest and most talented team in the division
  • Three blown 13+ point leads in 2015
  • Chose to start Nathan Peterman before the 2013 Florida game, which led to the worst half of quarterback play in Tennessee history
  • The 10-9 2014 Florida game
  • The 2015 Florida game
  • Presided over horrendously bad first halves in almost every 2016 game
  • The 7 turnover game at Texas A&M
  • Started Justin Worley over Josh Dobbs in 2014, only to have the season completely turn around once he inserted Dobbs into the starting lineup during the Alabama game
  • Allegedly punched Mack Crowder during practice in 2015
  • Hired Larry Scott, a guy who had never called plays before, to be his offensive coordinator before the 2017 season
  • Lost the last game of the 2016 season WITH A SUGAR BOWL BERTH ON THE LINE when the Vols suddenly couldn’t cover the “fleet footed” white guys in the Vanderbilt receiving core.
  • Allegedly kept Brett Kendrick in the Kentucky game for 2+ quarters even though he had a concussion
  • Committed the ultimate coaching malfeasance at the goal line during the third quarter of this year’s Florida game
  • Allegedly bullied the VFL coordinator into resigning
  • Presided over Tennessee’s 2017 season being virtually over before October 1
  • The offensive touchdown drought that lasted 15 quarters
  • “Champions of Life”
  • “Five Star Hearts”
  • “Fake News”
  • “Leadership Reps”
  • “We did everything to win the football game except score touchdowns”
  • Every other “Butchism”, including “don’t know how to win yet”, “Brick by Brick”, “Situational Football”, “Execution”, etc.
  • Had multiple players like/share criticism of him online
  • Became a laughing stock to the local and national media
  • Became the most reviled coach in the history of Tennessee athletics

And yeah, I’m sure I left some stuff out. There’s been a lot of screw-ups down there the last 4+ years. Hell, I think it’s fair to ask at this point what Butch would have to do to get fired. Get caught with a horse in his bed? Have a drug test come back positive for bath salts? Start a bar fight with a bachelorette party? Run through the T flipping the bird and holding hands with Osama Bin Laden? Worse than any of that?
But because they're feckless idiots, Tennessee athletic department has been intent on making every possible excuse imaginable for Butch. Hell, I can't think of a coach with that much baggage AND that little success in the history of college football who has survived as long as Jones has. But the fact that he has makes me think he’s going to be back in 2018.
Are they too damn cheap to pay his buyout? Do they think the Tennessee fans are idiots that they have by the balls? Or are they delusional enough to think everything’s fine?
Last Monday, after the Kentucky game, Athletic Director John Currie broke his silence on the Butch situation by doing a friendly, non-adversarial interview with Vol play-by-play man Bob Kesling. It was certainly... eye opening. Here are a few of his quotes (in bold):
“The surgeon’s creed is there’s no problem you can’t make worse by operating”
Yeah, I’m pretty sure the surgeon’s creed doesn’t include a double negative. Honestly I’m not even sure what he’s saying. Is he saying that he’s going to operate, or that operating always makes things worse, or that it just does sometimes? What?
“You’ve got to make decisions that you believe are best for your program. I believe that supporting our staff and supporting our players, getting ready for the Southern Miss game, is the best I can do for our football program right now
I mean, I’m pretty sure Tennessee, with or without Butch, would’ve beat Southern Miss this week. And since that's the case, how exactly is Butch being around “the best thing for the program”? Wouldn’t it be better for the program to be searching for his replacement right now? You know, getting ahead, giving the new coach time to lock down Butch’s recruits,, and give whoever it ends up being time to implement the early building blocks of the successful program we all want? Oh wait, that’s right! I’m an idiot! Everything is fine! There’s no need for any of that nonsense because Butch is returning next year!
“That’s been one of my practices the whole time. The nine years I’ve been an athletics director, I always try to go into the building on Sunday — win or lose.”
“Hey Butch, tough loss. But don’t worry about it, we don’t really care if you’re an incompetent underachiever, you’ve got my full support, and you’ll definitely be back for 2018. Plus, we love the coach speak. Those guys in the athletic department have been slapping your ‘Brick by Brick’ catchphrases on T-shirts, mugs, banners, and everything in between for years now. Turning a mean profit too! Unfortunately, we’ve pretty much milked all of them dry at this point, so a few of our boosters were wondering if you had anymore bullshit for us?”
“Our players played so hard through the whole game. They never let up.”
Wait a second… are we sure Butch didn’t hop on the line and answer this question? Because that seems an awful lot like something he would’ve said.
“The bottom line is, one of the reasons I came back here to the University of Tennessee is that this is a national program with a national following and incredibly passionate and fevered fans. That knife cuts both ways. You’re excited when you win, and you’re disappointed and angry when you lose. It’s the same for the staff and the AD and the players too.”
Thanks, John, we had no idea the Tennessee fan base was that passionate. We couldn’t tell from you getting killed on Twitter when you tweeted about the men’s tennis team or the next wave of renovations at Neyland.
And when Currie presented the aforementioned Neyland renovations on Thursday, he did nothing but double down on all the coach speak and nonsense he espoused earlier in the week. Are we sure this guy should be running a major athletic department? Does Tennessee have the Butch Jones of athletic directors and the Butch Jones of football coaches at the same time?
Which is why I don’t think Butch is getting fired, the fan base be damned. Butch is a nice guy (unless you’re the Vol For Life coordinator) who keeps his players out of trouble and eligible. Profits are high. Butch is relatively cheap compared to what they’d have to spend on a quality, high-level replacement, and his buyout would be expensive. Why would anyone expect Tennessee, an athletic department that’s always been comfortable going cheap on coaches, to suddenly reverse course and start acting like they’re as big as they are? Plus, they still have a chance of going to four straight bowl games! Can't move on from that!
Programs like Alabama, Florida, Ohio State are alpha male athletic departments that find losing unacceptable, and because of this, they don’t have any problem cutting ties with losers and splurging on their replacements. They’ve figured out that if your goal is to win championships in major college football, that’s the only way to do it. Florida fired Jim McElwain after he won the SEC East in back-to-back years because they knew he was a dolt who wasn’t capable of seriously contending for SEC or national titles. The lying about death threats was just the catalyst for that to happen. Tennessee, on the other hand, is a beta male program who rolls the dice every time and says, “Oh golly gee, I hope Louisiana Tech’s coach works out! His daddy used to coach in the SEC! Let’s see how little we can pay him!” And then when that coach screws up and underachieves, they throw their hands up in the air and replace him with another unproven chump with a flat top and five hundred too many bad catchphrases. And when that doesn’t work out, they double down on coach speak and give him more chances than a father gives his spoiled and immature trust fund son.
And thus, we’ve reached the crux of the issue. How much is too much? How long before the fan base starts abandoning the team in droves? It’s never going to happen, right? I know I’m never going to refuse to tune in to a Tennessee game, and I can’t foresee a scenario where the years-long season ticket holders are going to suddenly stop paying for tickets. The big TV money is going to continue coming their way, and the fans are always going to be hopeful (or delusional) enough to talk themselves into things getting better. I don’t see a fan revolt happening when Butch returns in 2018. Are people going to be pissed? Hell yeah. But are they going to give up on the program entirely? I don’t see it. #emptyneyland didn't work. And if the coffers are still full, what motivation does Currie have to change things? 
All of this, more than anything, is why I drink. My liver and shortened life expectancy thank you.