Butch Jones has been the head football coach of the Tennessee Volunteers for 97 days. During that time, he has done everything one could've wanted a new coach to do, from welcoming former players back to fielding a strong first recruiting class to attacking spring practice from the initial whistle. Naysayers were having fewer and fewer places to poke holes.
Early this morning, it officially became a farce to poke holes in Jones' process, at least until he does something significant to lose fans' affections. Jalen Hurd, the 15th-ranked player in the country and native of Hendersonville, committed to be a Vol (losing Jay Graham was a real crusher, eh?):
Recruiting isn't a guarantee of any winning anything, though it's an excellent indicator of future success. What it does do well is offer us a barometer on the state of the program.
When Tennessee reeled in 5-stars Kenny O'Neil, Walter Fisher and Chris Donald, it did virtually nothing to help them win. But when everybody in the country was clamoring for these future busts, it showed that the Vols were in good hands.
I think that the 6'3", 200-pound running back Hurd is closer to becoming Darren McFadden than Walter Fisher, for the record.
I said a couple of days ago that Jones was holding hot dice with his recruiting success, but that metaphor might be a little disrespectful in hindsight.
It implies that there's more randomness than planning, more luck than strategy, and it's clear that's not true. Jones is systematically rebuilding this program, and people, including the will-be 5-star running back Hurd, are taking notice.
This begs the question to the naysayers, whose numbers I'm sure have diminished: Which potential Vol head coach could've done better in 97 days?
I'm not sure that there are any but Butch Jones that could. Thank you for the rejection, Charlie Strong! We owe you an SEC championship ring in five years.