CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Tennessee coach Butch Jones received criticism throughout the offseason for the Vols’ shortcomings last fall.
Seemingly every week, a new coaching hot-seat list would emerge with Jones’ name on it.
Former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer sounded off with his thoughts about the hot-seat talk toward the current coach. One of the winningest coaches in Tennessee history believes Jones has done a fine job rebuilding the program.
“People ask, ‘If he doesn’t win nine or 10 games do you get rid of him?’” Fulmer said. “Are you kidding me? We just went through that, have y’all paid attention the past four or five years?”
Tennessee had a 23-27 record in the four-year period in between Fulmer and Jones.
Tennessee fired Derek Dooley after he lost 13 0f his last 14 SEC games.
Jones has grown the talent level from the Dooley era in his four years with the Vols.
“Every year is its own challenge,” Fulmer said. “Think about where we were four years ago. We were awful. Now we’re competitive with anyone in the country, in the best conference in the country. We simply just have to play more consistently.”
Tennessee’s record improved from 5-7 in Jones’ first season to 9-4 in 2016. The Vols are also coming off their third straight bowl win in as many seasons.
“We’ve won 9 games back-to-back,” Fulmer said. “Nobody is more disappointed than the coaches or the players if they stub their toe at the end of the year. We’ve had a lot of injuries and things going on.”
Fulmer recognizes the job Jones has done with raising the floor at Tennessee.
Six Tennessee players became NFL draftees in April, and Jones faces the task of replacing that talent this season.
“Butch has won his fair share of games the last two years,” Fulmer said. “The first two were building years. We are still in some since building this year.”