In his first several months with the Tennessee football program, head coach Butch Jones has already managed to impress a fanbase yearning for a turnaround. Jones currently boasts the No.1 recruiting class, according to Rivals.com, and has already won over members of his current roster.
"Coach Jones and the staff, they’ve laid out a proven process on how you go about becoming a winning football team," senior center James Stone told GoVolsXtra.com. "You can’t really worry about last season. Just focus on the process of what develops winning teams. If you do it every day, you’re going to get better every day.”
Tennessee fans have also gushed about their new coach. Jones won over skeptical fans with an impressive introductory press conference, proclaiming the coaching position at Tennessee as his "dream job."
But how long will the Volunteer faithful's praise of Jones last?
Spurned by Lane Kiffin's one-year exit, Vol fans quickly placed then-head coach Derek Dooley on a pedestal immediately after his hire. But, after a disappointing tenure and a 4-7 (0-7) record in 2012, restless Tennessee fans called for the coach's job, leading to his firing just before the team's season finale against Kentucky.
Although Jones already has a more impressive recruiting class entering his first season than the prior regime, he must win to ultimately keep morale amongst the fanbase alive. Expectations for the upcoming season aren't very high, giving the new coach some leniency.
But, as was the case with Dooley, fans will grow anxious if the Vols fail to show vast improvement during Jones' third season. By 2015, Jones will have a roster filled with players originally recruited by his staff.
To his credit, Jones' track record entering his first season with the Vols is much more impressive than Dooley's. Jones is 50-27 as a head coach, far superior to Dooley's 17-20 record before taking the reins at UT.
Despite no previous SEC coaching experience, Jones has proven he can win at other programs. His Bearcats tied for first place in the Big East during each of the past two seasons. Prior to his tenure with Cincinnati, Jones led Central Michigan to two Mid-American Conference championships, winning in 2007 and 2009.
Jones is expected to be the answer the struggling Vols have been searching years for. If history proves anything, he will likely bring a positive impact on the Tennessee football program.