Everything and everyone that is great, will eventually face adversity.
For Butch Jones and the new coaching staff at Tennessee, that adversity comes this Saturday when the Tennessee Volunteers travel to Eugene to take on the Oregon Ducks — the second ranked Oregon Ducks.
Jones was hired in December 2012 and since then he hasn’t faced the slightest bit of negativity from the Volunteer faithful.
If Vol fans are smart, they’ll continue that trend — even if the Vols suffer a lopsided defeat to the Ducks.
Oregon is one of the best teams in the nation. They have top talent and a established system that has them as one of the most dominant teams on the college landscape. Those are two things the Vols don’t have right now, but they will. Fans just need to be patient with their immediate expectations.
The amount of inexperience (sans the offensive line) on this Volunteer team is simply too much to overcome, for any coach. Derek Dooley left the cupboard pretty bare for the incoming coach and that’s something that needs to be remembered.
If this Tennessee team goes to Eugene and gets beat by 30 points, it won’t be the end of the world. Butch Jones will use everything from the game, win or lose, as a teaching moment.
The important question to ask, if you’re a Vol fan and you get down if Tennessee loses to Oregon, is “What other coach could do any better in this current situation?”
I’m not saying another coach could, or couldn’t, do better, that’s impossible to know. I am saying that the likelihood of finding a better person to lead this team is very very very unlikely.
Simply put — Butch Jones IS Tennessee. Just as much as Nick Saban is Alabama, or Mark Richt is Georgia.
That’s where Vol fans should have some optimism and give Jones a pass on this first season. He’ll have Tennessee as a regular fixture in the top 10 or 15 very soon, but you’ve got to understand, he’s not a miracle worker.
It all takes time.
Fans were a little disappointed back in February when Jones didn’t drastically improve Tennessee’s 2013 recruiting class, with just two months to do so.
Now, nine months later, Butch has built a 2014 recruiting class that rivals any in the nation. See what patience can do!
The Vols are expected to lose five of their next six games. Best case scenario, and this is absolutely the best possible outcome, the Vols go 7-5 this season and head to a bowl game. That’s assuming they win their final four games of the season (Missouri, Auburn, Vanderbilt and Kentucky). While that’s definitely possible, it’s not a certainty.
There’s going to be a lot of growing pains this season. I know the past few seasons have been tough, but endure one more and I promise you, as a Vol fan you’ll see the fruits of your labor start to pay off.
So even if the Vols get blown out this Saturday, just calm down, relax and let Butch enjoy the honeymoon a little longer.
And who knows, the Vols could shock the world and pull the upset. As the old adage goes, games aren’t played on paper.