Tennessee Football: Why Butch Jones Hire Should Concern Vols Fans

Steven Cook@@stevencookinFeatured Columnist IVDecember 12, 2012

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 17: Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Butch Jones argues after a play against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during the game at Nippert Stadium on November 17, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Rutgers won 10-3. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

No matter how much support Butch Jones gains this offseason from the Tennessee fanbase, there's no doubting that Vol Nation will be on pins and needles over the latest hire until on-field results come.

There's a lot to like about Jones upon first glance.

He's won everywhere he's coached at—something that can't be said about former head coach Derek Dooley—and has collected four conference championships in six years. He's a motivational players coach who will push the Vols as far as they can go.

That's not even close to the only positives that Jones brings to Knoxville. He should be an immediate shot in the arm for a fanbase that has been left lifeless since the Dooley era.

But a vast improvement in coaching mentality doesn't mean all is well.

For starters, Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart struck out on his top candidates. Losing out on the Jon Gruden sweepstakes wasn't a huge disappointment, as the courting of the ESPN personality by Vol fans was more fiction than fact. 

After Gruden is when the real disappointments came. Tennessee's talks with Jimbo Fisher ended nearly before they began. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, who is at odds with his athletic director, opted to stay with his alma mater. 

Hart could've saved face by hiring Louisville coach Charlie Strong, a proven SEC defensive coordinator and recruiter. Although Hart nearly landed Strong, he ended up turning down the Vols and made a long-term commitment to his ACC-bound Cardinals. 

When I was a kid watching college football, Tennessee was a national powerhouse and Louisville gave free tickets to kids with high grades through local elementary schools. The difference in exposure was laughable, and the fact that Louisville's coach turned down an offer to be one of the nation's highest paid coaches at Tennessee speaks volumes to how far the program has fallen.

Though they struck out on their top candidates, proven major-conference winners like Nebraska's Bo Pelini and Arizona's Rich Rodriguez were still on the board. Perhaps the Vols could've done better than Jones, despite the publicity of their disastrous coaching search, which helped #TurnedDownTennessee to trend on Twitter.

Jones has zero SEC experience.

Although, he made it a point to address that Les Miles and Nick Saban both came into the league with no conference experience.  That's not a part of a coach's resume that Vol fans wanted. 

Recruiting is a completely different landscape in the SEC, and that's something that Jones will have to get accustomed to quickly. 

Although Jones boasts an impressive overall record of 50-27, critics will be quick to point out that he followed Brian Kelly at both Cincinnati and Central Michigan. He won, but it was with many of Kelly's players. 

There's no reason to believe that Butch Jones will be the next Derek Dooley. Jones has won in previous stops and with the right moves, he can be a winner in the SEC.

Personally, I believe he will be a big improvement from Dooley and will never have the problem of not making bowl games.

But, is he the big splash that Vol fans wanted to revamp their fanbase? Not hardly.

And that should concern Tennessee fans. 


Steven Cook covers the Vols for Bleacher Report and the Tennessee Journalist.