“The culture is a disaster.”

Wow.  Talk about scathing

Those close to Jones paint the picture of a good man with good intentions — but one who struggles with insecurity.

“Butch is not very comfortable in his own skin,” one source told us. “Until he has that, he’ll just never be a great coach. He’s not comfortable in his own skin in recruiting, play-calling, organization …

“He’s great in a small setting, but he’s just not a comfortable guy.”

Jones won at Central Michigan and Cincinnati, but Tennessee is his first Power 5-level job.

“It’s like he doesn’t think he should be there,” the source said. “It’s like he doesn’t think he belongs. And that permeates through the program. Everyone feels that.”

Another source inside the building wondered if this point — 29-21 in four seasons — constituted a career crossroads for Jones.

“I think Butch is still growing as a coach, but he needs to make a decision that this is the level he wants to be at,” the source said. “I’m not sure that it is.”

The source added that Jones tendency to bicker with reporters is indicative of a coach unsure of himself and his position.

“Why would you lecture the media?” the source said. “You can’t have a slogan that says ‘Own It’ and then not own it when it comes time. People will follow true leaders through brick walls, but if you talk and don’t back it up, you turn over your shoulder and no one is there.”

Read the rest of the piece.  If it’s accurate, describing Tennessee as being in disarray is an vast understatement.  And as messy as 2016 was, 2017 looks like it could be even messier.

For now, Jones is still on the job. A $10 million buyout and Tennessee’s uncertain athletic director situation make a move all but impossible, even amid profound frustration.

Is there hope for 2017? Or is this a matter of time and buyout arithmetic?

For one, sources have told us that the staff will look different.

Notably, GoVols247 has reported that Los Angeles Rams strength coach Rock Gullickson, a longtime associate of Jones’, is a frontrunner to take over the strength and conditioning program. There’s optimism that Gullickson, or whoever takes over the department, will again restore toughness and discipline.

Also, sources said many of the players who were “coddled” are not returning. The sense is that a team with fewer stars “might actually play as a team.” But one source wanted to be clear that several Vols veterans in 2016, such as Dobbs and end Derek Barnett on defense, were quality leaders.

“We had some guys who showed up to work every day,” the source said. “I just wish we had more of them.”

Additionally, as many as four assistant coaches could be out, though 247Sports has already reported that neither offensive coordinator Mike DeBord nor defensive coordinator Bob Shoop are expected to be fired. It’s still possible that DeBord retires or is reassigned, sources have told us.

The AD piece of the puzzle could soon be settled, as well. Sources have indicated to 247Sports that things are progressing toward Chattanooga AD David Blackburn being hired within weeks to replace the retiring Dave Hart at Tennessee.

The only silver lining if you’re a UT fan is that Blackburn looks like he would be a quality hire as the next AD.  If you’re not a UT fan, though, feel free to grab a bag of popcorn and settle in.

By the way, if Georgia can’t get past the Vols next season…

20 Comments

Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange

We’ll always have Emmert.

Because, if you’ve run the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, nothing says “old school” like postseason expansion.

And you know what?  A sixteen-team playoff lets all the conference champions in!

17 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, The NCAA

There’s a lot to look forward to.

Really, this is such a sharp piece on what all the changes in college football are doing to reducing the importance of conference championship games.  Start with the obvious:

Once upon a time, conferences were alliances based on geography and traditional rivalries. There was some sort of natural barometer when teams played round-robin schedules and saw most of their conferences each year. The SEC, which used to span a maximum distance of 750 miles between Kentucky and LSU, now boasts Missouri, which must travel 1,000 miles to Florida. To add to the humor, the two teams are in the same division, the SEC East. Although I suppose it’s understandable to be muddy on the geography of flyover country (I’m kidding, it’s not, the Midwest is amazing and you should learn how it works), here’s a quick lesson: Columbia, Missouri, is the third-farthest west city in the SEC. In addition, teams in different SEC divisions face each other only every seven years, except in the case of teams’ cross-division rivals.

Consider, too, the Big Ten. When it was founded, it comprised only teams from Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana. Now, 1,300 miles and five rather large states lie between Nebraska and Rutgers. In the Big 12, it takes 1,450 miles as the crow flies to get from Texas Tech to West Virginia, and in the ACC, about 1,300 miles from Miami to Boston College. The Pac-12 seems at least superficially like the most reasonable conglomeration of the bunch, maybe because of the wide open spaces the West calls to mind, but even it, when reduced to numbers, is absurd; Arizona and Arizona State are about 1,500 miles from Washington.

She refers to that as “geographical heresy”, which is a nice turn of phrase. It’s illogical.  It’s also expensive, both in terms of finances and in terms of student-athletes’ time constraints.  (Although it would be a real shame to bring those titanic Florida-Missouri mid-week volleyball matches to a halt, I suppose.)

That’s hardly all, either.   There’s also — you’ll be surprised to hear this — the corrosive effect of the money chase.

… Really, this comes down to the money and the fact that schools like Houston, Cincinnati and BYU are willing to jump ship to a Big 12 that was nearly toppled five years ago and has been feeble ever since. The television dollars lie there, though, and it’ll take some major foundational disruption on the business side of the game before that changes. So for the time being, conferences will exist as they stand now. There will be the Power 5, where the money lies, and then the rest, and every other team will claw its way toward the Big 12 the next time it cracks open its doors, no matter how uncertain its face might be. Still, we need to learn to place less value on games because they occurred between conference foes—oh, the storied rivalry that is Rutgers-Indiana—or because they’re deemed a championship game.

How sad is it to watch the Big 12 chase its tail with expansion and a totally unnecessary conference title game after being told not having a championship game cost it a playoff berth, only to see Ohio State make the field this year?

But that’s the way the college football world appears to work now.  Who’s to say this isn’t the lesson to take away from that?

That’s all to say that none of this makes a good deal of sense, and we should treat the first weekend in December as such. A championship game is not much more than a chance for schools to get more television revenue and stations to draw in millions more viewers. Divisions are artificial, and if the committee keeps up its current thought process, why shouldn’t Urban Meyer and Nick Saban start scheming complex scenarios whereby their teams earn a so-called extra bye weekend to start their bowl training early?

Unfortunately, my fear is that rather than being an end in itself, the conference championship game is only the canary in the coal mine.  After all, any argument you can make about de-emphasizing one game can be extended just the same to the rest of the regular season.  That’s the slippery slope that eventually gets you to a seeding delivery system for the postseason.  The joke will come when Bill Hancock insists the regular season has been made more relevant than ever.

31 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs

Today, in bidness decisions

Tennessee football, don’t ever change.

I’m sure the prospect of Booch managing Smith’s future made an enormous difference, big enough that this was merely an irrelevant coincidence.

In the summer Tennessee hired Ashley Smith, Trey’s sister, to work in the football program with the title of executive assistant to the head coach.

45 Comments

Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Blowing Smoke, Recruiting

Final thoughts on Verne Lundquist

A nice tribute from CBS…

Tebow managed two “Uncle Vernes”.  I would have paid money to hear Saban do that, too.

Jack Nicklaus pitched in with this.

What’s great about this is to see a consummate professional appreciated in a timely manner as he goes out on his own terms.  That doesn’t happen as often as it should.

What’s also great is that Lundquist is humble enough to appreciate the appreciation.

Brad Nessler is a great replacement for CBS’ SEC game of the week — really, as good as we could hope for.  But Uncle Verne, you’ll be missed.

28 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

Rapid response

I continue to be impressed as hell with the staff’s prowess on the recruiting trail.  Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.  Shortly after Tom Herman took over at Texas, he turned his sights on a Georgia commit out of that state, running back Toneil Carter, and convinced Carter to take an official visit to UT.

Smart’s response?  Not gonna happen.

That’s not exactly convincing an in state kid to turn down an invite to see Paul Johnson.  Herman’s an excellent recruiter who learned his trade from one of the best in Urban Meyer, has plenty of contacts in the state of Texas and is playing on his home turf.  And yet Smart was able to move fast and shut that approach down cold.

Not bad.  Not bad at all.

36 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

Musical palate cleanser, Good Gawd! edition

I don’t know about you, but I could use six minutes of James Brown dance moves this morning.

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized