Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples has thoughts about what Butch Jones needs to do to show progress this fall.
The analyst gave interesting commentary about what it will take for Jones to quiet critics in 2017. Many eyes will be on Jones after the Volunteers finished 9-4 last year with a victory over Nebraska in the Music City Bowl. It was a disappointing finish for Tennessee, especially after there were high expectations to begin the fall when many considered the Volunteers to be a favorite to win the SEC East. Instead, Florida won the division again.
But Staples, for one, envisions Jones being fine if Tennessee threatens for an SEC East title in 2017.
Speaking on a “Dear Andy” video segment, the analyst touched on what Jones needs to do to show healthy progress.
“If Tennessee is in contention for the East title in November, even if they don’t get it, I think that’s fine,” Staples said. “I think Butch Jones is doing fine at that point. … Considering how tough the job Butch Jones inherited was, yeah, if he can get close to the SEC East title this year, he’s still on track.”
There’s something to Staples’ point. Once more, the SEC East is wide open. But if Tennessee can threaten for a division crown, it would be hard to criticize Jones for showing that kind of progress.
Remember, Tennessee wasn’t in good shape when Jones arrived. The Vols lost seven games in each of the four of the previous five seasons before Jones’ arrival.
Again, Jones’ progress will be worth following this season.