Tennessee football head coach Butch Jones has come under fire as of late, but his track record proves that he deserves another year with the Volunteers.
Ever since losing to the Vanderbilt Commodores in the final game of the season, Butch Jones has been on the hot seat among Vols fans. Heck, he has actually been fired by them.
But the calls for his head are based on incomplete and inaccurate analysis
The most common description of him is that he’s just a nine-win coach at best who can’t get programs beyond that. His history at Tennessee and Cincinnati prove that to his critics.
However, they are factually wrong.
In 2009, Jones led a Central Michigan Chippewas team to an 11-2 record, MAC Championship, and Top 25 finish. They then won their bowl game after he left for the Bearcats.
So his final team went 12-2. Now, maybe I’m bad at math, but 12 wins is better than nine, right?
Oh, he also went 10-3 his second year at Cincinnati. It’s not 12 wins, but 10 is also better than nine.
But let’s just look beyond those facts. What happened that led him to 11 wins at Central Michigan his final year?
It was Jones’s third year with a program that had a stocked roster. When he took over Central Michigan from Brian Kelly, the Chippewas were already in great shape.
Jones just needed to install his version of the spread, and he had to scout new talent to take the program to the next level. That’s just what he did.
Now you may bring up the fact that he had three years in Cincinnati and is in his fourth year in Knoxville.
However, Jones deserves mulligans at both places. His first year at Cincinnati, Kelly left him a completely depleted roster.
Bearcats fans at the time were even saying that. Just go back to what people were saying about him even after going 4-8 his first year following the undefeated season Kelly had.
With that in mind, Jones only had two years, 2011 and 2012, when Cincinnati had a full roster.
Fast-forward to Tennessee. He inherited a program in 2013 that had two decimated recruiting classes and two below-average ones by SEC standards.
That forced him to go through two rebuilding years in 2013 and 2014, and he didn’t really have a full roster until 2015.
See a pattern? Jones is a guy who gets between eight and 10 wins his first and second years with a program when the roster is full.
But as he continues to recruit his players and get his talent in there, eventually, they take the next step.
We already have proof of that based on what happened his third year at Central Michigan. Now, that was only one season, but there’s no reason he can’t do it again.
And we still haven’t seen the type of program he builds on a consistent basis.
You may say that he is a consistent nine-win coach who might occasionally break through and have a championship season.
Well what is Tennessee football? The program has a .683 winning percentage all time with an 825-368-54 record. That translates to right at about 9-4 a year.
And they have 13 SEC Championships in 84 years of conference play. That’s one SEC title every six or seven years. Add in six claimed national titles, and they get one of those avery 13 or 14 years.
So now, with the program where it needs to be, Jones has the Vols doing exactly what they have done on average since their beginnings. He just hasn’t broken through for an SEC or national title yet.
But Tennessee’s history says that after getting the Vols to this point he deserves at least six years to do that, and he deserves at least 13 years to deliver them a national title.
His own track record shows he deserves a fifth year to show what he can do with the program.
So yes, this year was disappointing to a certain degree. But it is not near enough to put Jones on the hot seat when you take a look at history.