Butch Jones is in his third year as the coach of the Tennessee Volunteers. During that span Jones has quickly become known as a guy that will sign four- and five-star players in February. Unfortunately, it would seem Jones is also becoming known as a guy that will make four or five blunders in September.
This was indeed the case again for Jones this past Saturday as he took his Tennessee program and its two consecutive top 10 recruiting classes into Florida looking for a signature win against the Gators and perhaps a chance to ascend to the actual top 10 rankings for on-field performance as well. Yet a day that started with promise ended in frustration for Tennessee and Jones. And coaching moves are likely the chief reason why.
Tennessee led 27-14 in the fourth quarter and could not hold on for the win. This story is eerily similar to the game against Oklahoma two weeks ago in which Tennessee also was ahead by two touchdowns in the second half only to let it slip away. In other words, it would seem that Butch Jones loses leads like Taylor Swift loses boyfriends.
The worst error by Jones this past weekend was a strange decision not to go for a two-point conversion late in the game in a scenario where doing so could have given Tennessee a 14 point advantage. Watching that series of events unfold was like watching someone walk into a BBQ restaurant wearing white pants. It was easy to envision how it could lead to regrets later.
For this and some of Jones’ other choices, some have taken to calling him “Botch” Jones. A better nickname might be “Spoiler Alert” because Jones has ruined more than a few endings for his fans this season.
After the game Jones seemed content that his choice to kick the PAT instead of going for two was the right one. To be fair, Adam Sandler probably also thought Grown Ups 2 was a good movie. They may not be the best judge of their own work.
On the other hand,Tennessee fans are more than happy to let Jones know that neither his decision making nor the current state of the program is anywhere near good enough. Tennessee has now lost to Florida for 11 straight years, lost to Alabama for eight straight years, lost to Georgia for five straight years. And Tennessee fans have not stopped complaining about these streaks for five straight seconds.
Their anger is justified.
Tennessee is supposed to be better than this. And with more time, maybe Jones can improve his in-game strategy enough to prove he is “the man” that can actually make The Vols better. However, time is on short supply at the moment.
A difficult stretch of games for Butch Jones continues over the next few weeks. Arkansas comes to Knoxville this Saturday. Georgia comes calling the following week. Then Tennessee takes a trip to Tuscaloosa two weeks after that. These games will require not just talented players, but a talented coaching staff as well.
There is plenty of reason to believe that the current crop of Tennessee players plays up to the standard which Tennessee fans have come to expect from their favorite program. The Tennessee coaching staff though? Well, that remains to be seen.