Sunday, October 29, 2017

Florida Pulls The Plug On McElwain While Tennessee Inexplicably Keeps Trying To Build Brick By Brick

Florida, a university that actually cares more about winning games than capturing Life Championships, agreed today to part ways with their head coach Jim McElwain after just 34 games. This seems like a perfectly logical and rational decision to me. McElwain is just 22-12 in his 2+ seasons in Gainesville, and he hasn’t been able to create anywhere close to a serviceable offensive attack, his supposed area of expertise. The Gators aren’t a national title contender, they can’t score points, and McElwain is in way over his head.
Why the hell would you hang onto him? You’re Florida, one of the best jobs in college football, and you’ve got enough money to lure just about anyone to your school. You should be in the national title conversation just about every single season.
Which makes Tennessee’s decision to still not fire Butch even more incomprehensible to me. You could replace, “Florida” with “Tennessee” in that last paragraph and that sentence would still make sense. Why doesn’t Tennessee have the same mindset as Florida? Why are they still hanging onto a losing hand like Butch? What the hell is going on?
And when you compare McElwain’s accomplishments to Butch’s, it makes it even more inconceivable that the Vols haven’t pulled the trigger:
McElwain: 34 games, 22-12 overall (64.7%), 16-8 SEC record (66.7%), 2 SEC East titles, 2 Top 25 finishes, 2-1 record vs Butch.
Butch: 59 games, 33-26 overall (55.9%), 14-23 SEC record (37.8%), 0 SEC East Titles, 2 Top 25 finishes, 1-2 record vs McElwain.
“But Matt! Butch inherited a worse dumpster fire than McElwain!” Sort of? In the two seasons prior to Butch arriving in Knoxville, Tennessee was 10-14. The Gators were 11-13 in the two years before McElwain. Not a ton of difference there.
If McElwain’s record didn’t meet the standards at Florida, then why does Butch, who is much less accomplished, meet the standards for employment at Tennessee? Shouldn’t the Vols have the same expectations as the Gators?
So why is Butch still employed? I see only five options.

  • 1.      The Tennessee athletic department and boosters, as is tradition, are a bunch of cheapskates and penny-pinchers and don’t feel like spending the necessary money to buy out Butch. This, of course, is stupid.
  • 2.      Butch said last night after the game that he absolutely expected John Currie to have his back. This makes me think that Currie actually went to Butch and said, “Hey man, it doesn’t really matter if you keep blowing games every week, we’re going to stick with you regardless”. Why else would Butch say that unless the two of them had a conversation about his job status? Which gives me even more reason to doubt the, “Tennessee offered Jon Gruden $10 million story” that was out there today. Who exactly offered him this money? Was it Currie, or was it some booster? If it was Currie, and he’s going to be negotiating with potential replacements, then he’s already decided that he’s going to fire Butch. Why not just do it now and promote an interim? That way the fan base knows what the hell is going on and actually thinks that you know what the hell you’re doing. Hell, they might even be more tempted to show up for the Southern Miss game this week if they thought the administration cared about winning as much as they did. Or if it was a booster that made the offer, then it’s a meaningless one, because Currie is ultimately the one that’s going to be making the decision about the next head coach. And do you really think Gruden or his representatives would take a phone call from some random booster who is speaking without the athletic director’s voice behind him? Seems unlikely. And are we really supposed to believe that Currie would leave Butch in place, and then meet with and make offers to his potential replacements behind his back? That’d be a terrible look for Currie wouldn’t it? Which is why I’d bet that he hasn’t reached out to anyone at all yet. 
  • 3.      They want to give Butch a chance to “finish what he started”. Let him make a bowl game and salvage the season and his job. Which is also stupid, because Butch is at best an 8-4 football coach that’s never going to sniff and SEC Championship.
  • 4.      The athletic department thinks he’s done a good job rebuilding the program and shouldn’t be fired. Because, you know, when I think of success, a 14-23 SEC record is the first thing that comes to mind.
  • 5.      Butch hacked into the iCloud and stole naked pictures of everyone in the Tennessee athletic department.
Regardless of what the reason is, there’s not an athletic department in the nation that is more incompetent than Tennessee’s. The decision to make a coaching change is an easy one.
Oh, and by the way, Florida isn’t going to screw this hire up either. They whiffed badly the last two times they had a coaching change by hiring unproven jokers like Will Muschamp and McElwain. They aren’t going to do that again, and I have no doubt they’ll spend whatever it takes to bring a proven guy to Gainesville, whether it’s Chip Kelly, Bob Stoops, or Dan Mullen. They actually want to do everything they can to give the football team the best chance to win each and every week, while Tennessee seems comfortable sitting around with their thumb in their butt naively hoping Butch catchphrases his way to an SEC Title. Unbelievable. 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

For The Fifth Week In A Row, It's Time To Fire Butch Jones

There haven’t been all that many people who have been more critical of Butch Jones than me the last few years. I’ve called him a gym teacher, I’ve made fun of his Butchisms and platitudes more times than I can remember, I skewered him for his decision to hire offensive coordinator Larry Scott, and I’ve been outright calling for his job for at least the last year. Hell, I wrote an article entitled “” two years ago after he blew the Florida, Oklahoma, and Arkansas games. Whatever sort of miniscule attention I’ve attracted online is due mostly to my criticism of Butch as a football coach.
Which is why it's so strange that I now feel like complimenting the man. I'd never take anything back about what I've written about Butch the football coach, but in fairness to him, there's no question in my mind that he worked his ass off for the last 4+ years, and never quit trying to make Tennessee football great again, despite the innumerable amount of back-breaking losses, as well as the fan base turning on him in a way Vol Nation never has on a coach before. It’s hard to have a problem with anything he’s done Sunday-Friday. The recruiting has been superb, there’s been no major NCAA trouble, and besides John Kelly’s weed bust this week, the Vols have virtually been crime-free since 2013.
Of course, Saturdays matter the most, and the results aren’t close to being good enough. Butch made his bed in 2015 and 2016 when he had the most talent in the SEC East two years in a row and squandered it by finishing 18-8 with no division titles and no major bowl game appearances. The man just doesn’t have the right skill set to be heading a big boy program like Tennessee. With great talent, he’s an 8-4 football coach. With good talent, he’s a 3-5 coach who goes 15 quarters without scoring an offensive touchdown.
What is there to say about tonight? It was reprehensible AND it still wasn’t one of the Top Ten “They just really Butch’d that” games. Tennessee outgained Kentucky by 84 yards, had no turnovers, forced four Wildcat fumbles, won the time of possession 38:25-21:35, and still lost. Brent Cimaglia missed two field goals, and the Vols allowed Stephen Johnson, who isn’t remotely close to being passing threat (he only had 48 yards thru the air), to drive 72 yards in 10 plays on them for the go-ahead touchdown. There really isn’t any excuse for Tennessee to ever lose to Kentucky, particularly when they’re coached by a gym teacher like Mark Stoops, unless Jesus Christ himself is starting for them at quarterback.
There’s really only two positives for Tennessee tonight, one of which is the emergence of Jarrett Guarantano as a potential competent SEC quarterback. I’ve certainly got respect for him after the beating he took last week at Alabama, but his play on the field was what really stood out today. He was accurate (18 out of 23), he didn’t turn the ball over, and he was able to keep he offense moving and sustain some drives. He definitely doesn’t have elite coaching, or even half decent coaching, and yet this was the most calm and collected he's looked all season. His arm is adequate, and he’s definitely athletic enough to run the spread and hang with SEC defenders. Pair him with a smart offensive mind and I think the Tennessee attack will be really potent next season.
The other positive is that there will assuredly be a new coach in Knoxville in 2018. The UT athletic department seemed intent on giving Butch fifteen too many chances, but I can’t imagine them sitting on their hands and trotting out Jones next week, because if they do that, there might be only 40,000 people in Neyland for the Southern Miss game. The fan base won’t stand for it, and the players know he’s cooked. Nigel Warrior’s Snapchat this week was pretty damning. It’s time to make the change. Hold the press conference tomorrow.

And when Tennessee does fire Butch, please, for the love of God, don’t screw up and go cheap when you hire a replacement. Open the wallet, target a big-name, proven guy with some cache, and spend whatever it takes to get him to Rocky Top. Outspend everyone if you have too. Florida is probably going to have a job opening as well, due to Jim McElwain’s utter incompetence teamed with his fake death threat comments from this week. They’re definitely going to be targeting a Chip Kelly-type guy because they just swung and missed with a Butch Jones-level chump. Tennessee can’t afford to let them hit a home run with their hire, and then turn around and pick some bozo like Colorado State’s Mike effing Bobo to head their program. If they think Jon Gruden is the savior, then rain the cash down on him like he’s in a strip club, and bend over and grab the ankles for him. Or hell, why not call Penn State’s James Franklin and offer him $10 million a year? He made his bones coaching in this state, and he’d win a hell of a lot of games if he came. And if he turns you down, so what? At least you went down shooting. And if I could convince the Haslam family to give me the money, I’d be more than willing to drive a dump truck full of cash to Chip Kelly’s house and drop the $7 million in his front yard. Does Tennessee want to win championships, or do they just want more platitudes, more slogans, and an extremely alienated and beaten down fan base that is resigned to the fact that they'll never see moments like this again?

Or this?

Or this?

Tennessee can be that program. They’ve been it before. No more Dooleys, no more Butchs, and definitely no more Kiffins.

Kelly-Helfrich 2018. Make it happen.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Who Should Be The Next Coach At Tennessee?

Incredibly, and for reasons that remain unclear, Butch Jones is still the head coach at the University of Tennessee. What exactly is everyone waiting for? The hole has already been dug, and there’s more than enough people willing to lower the casket into the ground. At this point, the only people who will be unhappy to see Butch go will be liquor store owners, because there’s no way their sales don’t skyrocket in the hours after this man commits a coaching atrocity.
It's going to be really fun watching the pummeling Alabama puts on them tomorrow. One my favorite things in the whole world is when I get to go into a rivalry game with zero expectations for my team to win. I love that!
The only good thing that’s going to come from losing 66-0 this weekend is that it’ll probably be the actual final straw for Butch’s tenure. Hell, I thought we were out of straws when last year’s squad, the most talented Tennessee team in a decade, went 4-4 in the SEC, couldn’t win the worst East Division of my life, lost to a South Carolina team that was starting what should’ve been a senior in high school at quarterback, and gagged their way out of a probable Sugar Bowl berth when they stopped being able to cover the white receivers from Vanderbilt in the second half of their game. But what the hell do I know?
So when they lose, and Butch gets fired on either Sunday or Monday, or hell, gets left on the tarmac in Tuscaloosa, it raises the ever important “who should they hire?” question that everyone has been losing their minds over since Butch blew the Florida game in mid-September.
After that game, I published a list of nine potential replacements for Butch. It's far from a perfect list, but I was pissed about how badly Coach Jones Butch'd that incredibly winnable game that I just started throwing names out there. Here was the list:
1. Chip Kelly
2. Bob Stoops
3. Bobby Petrino 
4. Jon Gruden
5. Dan Mullen 
6. Mike Gundy
7. Mike MacIntyre
8. PJ Fleck
9.Les Miles
At this point, I no longer think numbers 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 are viable choices.
Petrino is hurt by his, and this is putting it kindly, less than sterling reputation, and his 4-6 record in his last ten games. I was on the “Bring Bobby Petrino to Knoxville” board of directors last year, but that didn't stop me from being concerned about the personal stuff. It’s much easier to excuse the “I used to have my mistress on the payroll” chicanery when he was winning. But if he can’t do better than 4-6 in his last ten with someone like Lamar Jackson playing quarterback for him, then I think there are better choices out there. 
Mullen comes off the list because I don’t think he’s leaving Mississippi State unless he gets an ungodly amount of money (he makes more than $4 million a year now!), and with as much success as he's had there, I don't think he's worth $7 million a year.
Gundy, despite his immaculate mullet and the, “I’M A MAN, I’M 40!!!” rant (on the short list of greatest press conference moments of all time), doesn’t survive because every single one of his defenses at Oklahoma State have sucked. The man couldn’t stop a nose bleed if he had an entire bag of cotton balls.

MacIntyre is gone because he’s followed up last year’s 10-4 record at Colorado with a 4-3 one this season. Plus, he failed to report a domestic violence allegation against one of his assistant coaches by that individual’s girlfriend, a violation of not only his own contract, but also of Title IX law. If it wasn’t for his 10 win season last year, the man very well may be out of a job. Again, Tennessee can do better than that.
Miles misses the cut because he’s in his early 60s and his offenses at LSU  every year were basically, “We’re going to run straight into the line of scrimmage and fall down 40 times a game”. The play calling while he was there was less inventive than the kind of crap Larry Scott and Butch have mustered up this season, and that’s saying something.
The last three times the Vols have had a job opening, they’ve screwed it up. Lane Kiffin was a disaster who left the program in shambles after a year, Derek Dooley was a position coach masquerading as head man, and Butch Jones borrowed his coach speak from a motivational seminar taught by Tai Lopez. 

What did all three have in common? They were utterly unproven, in the mold of “golly gee, I hope they figure it out and become something special!”. Kiffin was the offensive coordinator on Pete Carroll’s staff at USC when they had Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, and a zillion other NFL guys, and then flamed out badly with the Oakland Raiders, going 5-15 in a little over a year. Dooley was the head coach at Louisiana Tech, and finished his illustrious career there by going 17-20 in three years. Butch went 23-14 in three years at Cincinnati and never beat a ranked team or won a major bowl game. What exactly had any of these guys done to earn the Tennessee job? And why is Tennessee, a school that is one of the Top 10 revenue producing athletic departments in the country, totally comfortable with rolling the dice on some, “hell, we hope it works out” guy when they could go out and drop $6 million on some A-lister who has had a ton of success somewhere else? Clemson, a school that isn’t even a Top 25 revenue producing athletic department, is paying their head coach Dabo Swinney $7.5 million this season, and his defensive coordinator Brent Venables is making $1.7 million. If they, again, a school that ISN’T EVEN A TOP 25 REVENUE PRODUCING ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT, can pay two football coaches a combined $9.2 million, I think Tennessee, a TOP TEN REVENUE PRODUCING ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT should be able to manage $6 million for Chip Kelly or Jon Gruden or Bob Stoops. So if you hear someone say, “Oh, they just can’t afford Chip Kelly”, they’re either an idiot or they’re lying. This is great job! The facilities are top notch, the fan support is among the highest in the country, the recruiting budget is enormous, they’ve got boatloads of cash, etc. There’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to draw a top name to Knoxville.
Of course, if Tennessee is comfortable getting their skull caved in every year by Alabama, or losing winnable games to Florida every September, then hell yeah, go roll that dice on another Butch Jones-type coach. And if that happens, then no one should ever buy season tickets again. Why should you? What’s the point? Why would you want to support that group of penny pinchers and cheapskates who aren’t doing everything they can do make sure Tennessee is in the best position to win every week? Why should you waste your hard earned money on expensive tickets, or spend your limited free time to driving down there seven times a year?
Which is why PJ Fleck also shouldn’t be seriously considered. We just don’t have enough information on him yet. He turned Western Michigan into a viable program, but he’s just 3-3, and 0-3 in the Big Ten, in his first year at Minnesota. I think Fleck will eventually make the Golden Gophers contenders in the Big Ten West, and I suspect he’ll even get better job than Minnesota one day, but why bet on the unknown when you can spend the cash you have on a known commodity? Which is why this coaching search should really only be a three man race between Chip Kelly, Bob Stoops, and Jon Gruden.
And please don’t @ me with, “How about Jim Bob Cooter?” or, “Bring Tee Martin home!” or, “Jeff Brohm is an up and comer at Purdue!”. 
Most of you guys only like Jim Bob Cooter because he has a funny name and because he’s an alum. Sure, he’s done a good job as the offensive coordinator for the Lions, but he’s also been popped twice for DUI, and got arrested for entering an apartment that wasn’t his through a window and crawling into bed with a woman. Plus, he looks like that high school teacher we all had or knew about that probably shouldn’t have been teaching because his only real purpose for being employed was because he was football coach. 
Tee Martin is in just his second year as USC’s offensive coordinator, and in the two games he called against big boy competition (Alabama and Stanford) that weren’t quarterbacked by probable number 1 draft pick Sam Darnold, the Trojans scored just 6 and 10 points. I’m not saying he’s a bad offensive coordinator, but we also don't have enough evidence to suggest that he's a phenomenal, out of this world one either. And since we don’t know, then he shouldn’t be considered at Tennessee. 
As for Brohm, he made Western Kentucky viable, as he finished 30-10 there in three years. In his first year at Purdue, he's 3-3. Great. Maybe he’ll end up being something. But again, why take the chance when you can just spend the money on something known?
Which brings us back to our three contenders; Kelly, Stoops, and Gruden. To me, Stoops seems like the least likely of the three to accept the position. He abruptly retired this summer, and he’s apparently always had concerns about what the job was doing to his health, due to his father dying on the sidelines while coaching a high school game back in the 80’s. Honestly, he’d probably be my top choice if I felt like he was totally 100% interested in jumping back into coaching. All he did at Oklahoma was win a national title and 10 conference championships while playing in the BCS Title Game four times. He also made the college football playoff in 2015. There’s probably never been a more accomplished coach on the open market in the history of college football than Stoops. He’d be a roaring success in Knoxville if he came here.
I never thought I’d say this, but because the “#grumors” won’t die, Jon Gruden suddenly seems like an actual realistic candidate at Tennessee. According to Paul Finebaum, Gruden is the top choice among Tennessee boosters, and I suspect he’d be the overwhelming favorite among most Vol fans as well. Plus, there’s the whole, “I’m coming home” element with him, due to the fact that his wife is from the area and that he was once a grad assistant there in the mid-eighties. And don't forget the "OH MY GOD HE MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE HAD DINNER WITH 'IMPORTANT FOLKS' ON FRIDAY" and, "HE WAS AT THE TENNESSEE GAME ON SATURDAY! THAT MEANS HE'S COMING TO BE OUR FOOTBALL COACH!!!". 
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 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 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. Where's the historical example of this happening? 
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, it was because he had one of the greatest defenses of all time, a group that he basically did 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?
Which is why the right answer to the question we’ve been trying to solve is undoubtly Chip Kelly. He’s 53, and unlike Stoops and Gruden, the man clearly has the desire to be a head coach somewhere. Plus, his four year run at Oregon from 2009-12, a stretch that saw the Ducks go 46-7 and finish with three Pac 12 championships and three AP Top 4 finishes, is one of the best in the sport this century.
"But Matt, he's a jerk!" Ok... why do I care? So what if he’s not the coziest or warmest personality? Is Nick Saban “warm”? Hell no, but the guy wins games, and isn’t that the ultimate point of fielding a football team in the first place? Because that’s what Chip would do. "Hey dumbass, it didn't work out in the NFL for Chip!" Yeah, of course it didn't, because Chip shouldn't be an NFL coach. That up tempo attack will never work in the pros because of the 53 man roster limit. Eventually your defense gets worn out playing heavy minutes against grown men for 16 weeks during the fall and winter, as they never get enough time to rest because the offense either scored or punted too quickly. In college, he might face 8 teams a year that have the athletes to matchup with him, and in that case, he's got 80 scholarship players he can just keep rotating in and out. Oh, and by the way, there's not an offensive system that's perturbed Saban more than Kelly's type of spread, up tempo attack. He's bitched about it for years. He hates playing against it. This sounds like something the athletic department should keep in mind when they're making a hiring decision.
The only reason Chip Kelly shouldn’t be on the sidelines in Knoxville next season is if he gets hit by a meteor, if he gets arrested for moving kilos of Columbian bam bam across state lines, or if he inexplicably decides he doesn’t want to coach anymore. And since all of those are unlikely, then there are no excuses. Tennessee is by far the best job opening this off-season.
It’s a big hire for new Tennessee athletic director John Currie. What kind of AD are you going to be John? The one that says, “screw it, I don’t care if Alabama whoops our ass every year, I ain’t paying more than $3 million for a coach”. Or is contending for championships as soon as possible your top priority? We’ll know when he makes the hire.
And when Tennessee screws up and hires Jim Bob Cooter, that’ll probably be the time to cancel your season tickets.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Tennessee Keeps Roping Us In And Then Crapping Themselves

If Tennessee had “the best bye week we’ve had here in a very, very long time”, then I’d hate to see what the results would be coming off the worst one. I mean, the offense crapped themselves worse than a non-potty trained 2 year old after Thanksgiving dinner. All they could muster was 9 points, 253 total yards, seven sacks given up, four red zone trips that ended with no touchdowns…. Just awful.
A few takeaways:
1.  Apparently, despite all the talk about them, it's pretty obvious that Tennessee didn't quite get enough leadership reps this week.
2.  Not breaking new ground here, but Butch is done. Probably not this week, but when they travel to Alabama next Saturday and lose 66-0, that’ll be it. Not that I wouldn't get rid of him now, of course. Hell, I would’ve fired him last year after they blew the Vanderbilt game and wasted the most talented Tennessee team in more than a decade by going 4-4 in the SEC.
Also, how the hell is Butch now 0-4 against Will Muschamp and his ever increasing beer gut? If you can't beat Muschamp (the quintessential example of a gym teacher) once in four tries, then you probably shouldn't be a Division 1 head football coach. 
3. Larry Scott and Sal Sunseri are the worst coordinator hires in the history of the school. I think, at this point, we have more than enough evidence to prove that Scott is a tight ends coach masquerading as a play caller. The red flags were everywhere when Scott was hired back in January, and it’s no surprise that side of the ball is an absolute dumpster fire. Scott’s clogged toilet bowl offense has brought them nothing but ten straight quarters without a touchdown, weird decisions in the red zone, and inability to consistently create a rushing attack, despite having one of the best running backs in the SEC. Sure, Scott is just running Butch’s offense, and Jones has the final say on every decision, but what exactly is Scott bringing to the table? Is he making the offense better? Everyone hated Mike DeBord, but at least Tennessee scored touchdowns last year. Now they can’t even figure out things like, “Marquez Callaway and John Kelly are by far our best offensive weapons, maybe they should touch the ball a combined 35-40 times a game” or, “Maybe we should roll Guarantano out of the pocket because he’s an athlete who is way more competent when he has the threat of making plays with his legs”. Of course, and this has been a problem before, it doesn’t matter what you do if your offensive line has more holes than Swiss Cheese.
4. I think it’s impossible to have a strong opinion on whether or not Jarrett Guarantano is going to be good until he actually has a competent offensive coaching staff. I thought this was the best he had looked at any point this season, but that really isn’t saying all that much considering he finished the day with just 133 passing yards and -2 rushing yards. Of course, it wasn’t a great sign when he spent the entire Georgia Tech game disinterested on the sidelines because he wasn't playing. Unfortunately, there's a lot riding on him, which is concerning, considering I'm not sure what we should make of him yet.
Because of how the season has played out, 2017 has quickly devolved into the least interesting Tennessee football season of my life. The year was basically over on September 30th when Georgia blew them off the field at home, and since then, the “Grumors” surrounding who is going to be the next head coach have become infinitely more interesting than anything that's actually happening on the field week to week. So as I sat on my dad’s couch and watched the crap show play out, everything was so predictable. The anemic offense, the blown lead, the miracle comeback, the devastating loss. When Tennessee, facing a 15-9 deficit, got the ball back with less than two minutes, I was about as disengaged in big moment for a Vol game as I'd ever been. Sure, I was rooting for Tennessee, but I’ve been Butch'd so many times since Jones arrived in Knoxville that I knew it'd be a good idea to keep my guard up. There was no way they were going to suck me back in now. 
Of course, in typical Tennessee fashion, after doing nothing on offense all day, Guarantano inexplicably led a miracle drive all the way down into the red zone. When Brandon Johnson hauled in a long gainer to put the Vols into Gamecock territory, I forgot about everything I knew about Butch-coached teams and jumped all the way back in with two feet. “Holy crap, they’re going to win this game!” Because that's what you do when you're a fan. You start watching your team irrationally like an idiot while talking yourself into things you know they won't be able to do.
But because no one stays "on brand" quite like Butch, the Vols couldn't lose a close game without some good old fashion clock mismanagment first. After a completion to the five yard line that made it first and goal with 22 seconds left,Butch decided that rather than spiking the ball and stopping the clock, he was going to try and communicate a play across the field to his new quarterback, a guy who had never started a game before OR been in a high pressure situation like that. Genius. Hey brah, just tell him to go up there and spike it! It, of course, went terribly wrong, and by the time Guarantano got the ball snapped and lofted one into the end zone, the game clock had run all the way down to 9 seconds. Brilliant. Luckily, he got bailed out by a pass interference call in the end zone that put the ball on the two yard line.
No way they could screw this up, right? Whoops. Three straight incompletions, all of which were throws that the receivers had no chance to catch, ended the game. As Guarantano's last throw hit the ground and South Carolina rushed the field, I instantly felt like an idiot for ignoring my instincts, getting emotionally invested, and believing it would turn out differently this time. With Butch, it never does.