There were three Tennessee football plays that made the difference in Butch Jones and John Currie’s future with the Vols.
Let’s face it Tennessee football fans. To the rest of the college football world, Butch Jones’s press conferences were pure entertainment. We heard Champions of Life, Leadership Reps, Five Star Hearts, and of course, the Trash Can.
While everybody else had this to look forward to every week, Rocky Top dreaded it. But if people thought it couldn’t get any better than Jones trolling the media, they were wrong. Former UT A.D. John Currie had plenty more for the act.
Currie treated Vol Nation with the anticipation of when he would pull the plug on Butch Jones. Week by week, fans patiently waited for the news that Jones had been fired. Finally, after two months of misery, Currie finally pulled the trigger and let him go. But that’s where the fun for other the rest of the nation had just started.
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As athletic director, Currie had one job to do: Find the perfect candidate for replacing Butch Jones. We all know the story. After several phone calls, countless interviews, and several rejections, Currie thought he found the ideal match in Greg Schiano. But of course, chaos erupted from Rocky Top when that news broke. Anger, frustration and agony were the thoughts going through every Tennessee fan’s mind. Everybody else was in tears of laughter.
At that point, Currie listened to the concerned, distraught fanbase, gave in, and backed out of the deal. But it only got worse. Day after day, Currie kept going after coach, after coach, after coach and came up with nothing. After witnessing the horrid incompetence of Currie, the University of Tennessee finally had enough.
But what if I told you that three plays made the difference in both Jones and Currie staying in Knoxville?
What if Fileipe Franks’s Hail Mary pass didn’t happen? Tennessee football would have gone into overtime with Florida. With the momentum before that Hail Mary, it sure looked like a guaranteed win for the Vols. That would have made Team 121 3-0 instead of 2-1.
The Vols would have then been 4-1 heading into the game against the South Carolina Gamecocks. At that point, what if Jarrett Guarantano (or Quinten Dormady, who may not have lost his starting job after beating Florida) had made the perfect throw to Brandon Johnson in the end zone on the final play? Brent Cimaglia would likely have won the game then with an extra point. That means Tennessee would have beaten South Carolina. So they would’ve been 5-1 going into the next week against Alabama.
After losing to the Crimson Tide, the Vols traveled to Lexington and lost another close one to the Kentucky Wildcats. But in that game, what if Guarantano’s Hail Mary attempt at the end had been thrown three yards further down the field? Jeff George would have caught the pass, and the Vols would have grandly beaten Kentucky. That means they would have been 6-2 going into the week of Southern Miss!
If these three plays happened, Tennessee football fans would have been praising Butch Jones and thought he was the greatest thing on Earth since sliced bread. That also means that UT Athletics would have still had John Currie as A.D.
Maybe it is for the best that these three plays didn’t happen in Tennessee football’s favor. After all, if they did, who knows what would have gone on? Vols fans would still have dealt with the weekly Butchism’s, giving college football fans something to laugh about.
John Currie would have most likely been incompetent in another sport with Tennessee Athletics, which probably would have gone unnoticed. And Tennessee football wouldn’t have had the brighter future it needed to have. Whatever the case may be, these negative results benefited the Vols in a significant way.
If Tennessee fans could describe these two leaders in one word, it would be torment. But to the rest of the college football world, they were sacred. Thankfully for Vol Nation, the rocky road of torture is over, and they can rejoice to a better, brighter, future. But it took a series of unfortunate events to get to this fortunate circumstance.