Matt Hinton spells out the rather gloomy position in which new Tennessee coach Butch Jones finds himself.
At the same press conference, Jones cited Tennessee’s facilities and instantly recognizable, “national brand” as major assets, which is certainly true compared to, say, Central Michigan and Cincinnati. The reality he faces is a division in which equally accoutered Florida and Georgia have just surged back into the national elite after short-lived crises of their own, and South Carolina continues to prove its staying power. The Volunteers also gets the short end of the stick in cross-divisional scheduling, thanks to a guaranteed date with Alabama every October. Butch Jones is the first coach to arrive in Knoxville in decades who has to confront the undeniable fact that, under present conditions, it is hard to win at Tennessee, at least on the level Tennessee has traditionally expected. Those conditions are not going to get any friendlier in the foreseeable future.
All that, and Matt doesn’t even mention that Vanderbilt appears to have a pulse under James Franklin.
Which makes me reconsider my initial skeptical dismissal of John Pennington’s take on Jones’ attempt to add Tee Martin to his staff.
If Jones can land Martin, he’ll prove to doubting UT fans that he can at least do two very important things:
1. Recruit well enough to bring a favorite son home
2. Hurt Kiffin’s staff
Both would please a UT fanbase that was less than happy when Jones was hired last Friday.
Could the Vol fan base be that shallow? Beats me. But I guess it’s better to focus on the warm and fuzzies of punking Junior than to think about what that defense, which has gone from a 4-3 to a 3-4 and back again to a 4-3 in straight seasons will look like next year.