The Butcher of Knox County

by Bryan Z. on December 8, 2012 · 0 comments

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Butch Jones hired as Tennessee Vols head coach

With word breaking late Thursday that Butch Jones officially accepted the head coaching job at the University of Tennessee, I thought this would be an appropriate time to address all the people who are for some reason killing this hire. It goes without saying that sports fans are some of the most short-sighted people on the planet. Fans either place an unreasonable amount of pressure and expectation on a new coach, or they automatically dismiss the new hire and never give him a chance to get off the ground. Either way, the poor soul is often times a dead man walking before he ever steps foot on campus.

When word started to circulate that Jones was on his way to Knoxville, I immediately took to the blogs and message boards to take the temperature of the Tennessee faithful. Well, first I wanted to make sure the story was true. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve heard that Charlie Strong, Chris Peterson and John Gruden were all headed to East Tennessee. Rumors are part of any coaching search; it’s not exclusive to Volunteer fans.

You might be wondering why I chose to single out this coaching hire with all the commotion that has taken place in college football over the past month. Well, I’ll give you two reasons. One, Tennessee is by far the most interesting program that fired their head coach. Yes Auburn, I know you fired your coach too, but let’s be honest, you do not have the national appeal and tradition that UT has. I’m sure you are going to disagree with that statement, but nevertheless, it’s true. The second reason I singled out this hire is because I think it’s by far and away the best of the bunch. I am not going to break them all down for you although I started to, but I will say this; the only hire that can give the Jones’ hire a run for its money is Hazel to Purdue. Purdue stole one, and their fans should enjoy having him for the next three years.

It’s true; Tennessee football has fallen on hard times. Ever since they parted ways with Phil Fulmer, Tennessee football has swiftly rotted from the inside out. Just as Notre Dame proved this year; if you get the right head coach the recruits, wins, and BCS bowl games quickly follow. The reason the core of UT rotted is because they didn’t get the right head coach. They hired Lane Kiffin, a coach that has done nothing but trip up his whole career. Kiffin is a guy that has no, or limited, success everywhere he has been. Yet, his paychecks keep getting bigger. When Kiffin decided to leave Knoxville, in true cowardly fashion, The Vols found themselves in yet another coaching search. When UT hired Dooley, it was the result of exploring all other options and coming up short. Dooley didn’t fit, in any way, shape or form.

Once again The Vols were back in search mode. This time, however, they knocked the cover off the ball. Butch Jones brings something to Knoxville that Lane Kiffin didn’t; he brings the proven track record of a successful head coach. He brings something to Knoxville that Derek Dooley didn’t; an established presence and impeccable reputation in the fertile recruiting ground of southern Ohio. He brings a fun, innovative offense that can and will work in the SEC. He also brings that enjoyable, energetic, coaching persona that his predecessors did not have. Both Kiffin and Dooley have the personality of a Ken doll.

As someone who has no vested interested in Tennessee football, it’s easy to get excited about this hire. I understand that if you’re closer to the program, it might take you awhile to catch up. My interest is purely from a college football fan point of view. I believe that college football is at its best when the traditional powers are competitive. Football is better when Notre Dame, Michigan and Tennessee are winning on the field and on the recruiting trail.

Butch Jones may not have been Tennessee’s first choice, but the only thing that matters is that he is the right choice.  Not every program has the good fortune of having Urban Meyer or Nick Saban step right in to a team loaded with NFL talent. For programs in which the stars do not align, coaches like Butch Jones exist. Provided he can recruit as well as I think he can, win as much as I think he will, and stabilize the program to the point that the head coaching position is no longer the biggest turnstile in the SEC, I think Tennessee can dismantle their search committee for a good long while…at least until the Presidential election in 2024.

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