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…