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.