Archive for November, 2017

Mississippi State hires Joe Moorhead to be new head coach

Mississippi State has hired Penn State’s offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead to be the school’s new head coach, after Dan Mullen left for Florida a few days ago.

Moorhead was an exceptional OC for Penn State, helping the school win the Big Ten Championship as well as a 10-2 season with an explosive, high-paced offense that starred QB Tracy McSorley and more’s the case, RB Saquon Barkley. He’s well-known for a run-pass-option offense, and it produces points. A ton of them. Penn State averaged 453 yards per game and 6.6 yards per play. He was 5th in the country for TDs, and 5th in the country for points per game with 41.6 – up from 37.6 last year.

While Penn State fans are going to mourn Moorhead’s loss, it was hardly surprising. After all, Moorhead came to Happy Valley from a head coaching job at mighty Fordham, and with Penn State’s explosive offense the way it was, it was only going to be a matter of time before he left.

Mississippi State should be just the place for Moorhead. He’s not a big name coach like others in the SEC. Mississippi State is constantly expected not to be particularly competitive in the SEC West – apart from the must-win which is the Egg Bowl against Ole Miss. He has a QB in Nick Fitzgerald (if he stays), and very good running back in Aeris Williams (if the stays). And Dan Mullen set the program to keep rolling – although with his move to Florida he probably will take a number of his staff – including DC Todd Grantham, receivers coach Billy Gozales and offensive line coach John Hevesy. Apparently, Moorhead’s appealing to DC Todd Grantham to stay, but that seems unlikely, bearing in mind the size of the Florida job and the fact that Gainseville is in a SEC recruiting heartland.

Moorhead’s SEC line-up isn’t easy, with road trips to Alabama, LSU and Ole Miss and home games against Arkansas, Auburn and Texas A&M. There’s also a non-division home game against Florida, and a non-conference road trip to Kansas State.

Will Jimbo Fisher go to Texas A&M?

This weekend, Georgia and Auburn are playing for the SEC Championship, with the winner going into the College Football Play-Off.

But if we’re honest, all eyes (that aren’t in Athens and Auburn), are on College Station, Texas.

You see, on Sunday the Aggies let go of head coach Kevin Sumlin. To a lot of the fanbase, it was hardly a surprise.We didn’t like the fact that Sumlin was fired at first, and then we were reminded of his SEC home record. Sumlin hadn’t won a SEC home game since October 2015, which is a hell of a long time if you think about. The team had regressed since Johnny Manziel’s Heisman year, and there hasn’t been a quarterback that has been able to recreate his heroics. To make matters worse, after Kenny Hill transferred to TCU after rumored issues with alcohol, he’s been excellent. And despite the massive investment going into the program, Sumlin could never really challenge the might of Alabama (he only beat them once) and could never beat LSU.

Anyway, there are rumors flying around that Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher will be soon packing his bags and going to Texas A&M.

Fisher, who is paid $5.5 million per year by Florida State thanks to a contract extension in 2015, could have earned $40 million by 2022 if he’d stayed in Tallahassee.

But apparently, that’s not the case. Fisher has implored the team to ignore the ‘distraction’ of the Texas A&M rumors, but he’s been extremely evasive when it’s come to speaking to the media about a possible move.

Fisher said: “I never comment on jobs,” Fisher said. “My focus right now is winning against ULM and playing our season. I don’t get in to the rumors and the rumor mill. If there was ever something to it then at the appropriate time, but right now there’s no reason to comment and I’m focused on beating ULM.”

While we don’t think that Fisher would be leaving a sinking ship if he left Tallahassee, it certainly hasn’t been an easy season for him. Having lost starting QB Deondre Francois in the blowout loss to Alabama at the start of the year when the Seminoles were ranked No.3 in the country, he then had a sea of injuries throughout the season.

But with a team like Florida State who recruit as well as Fisher did, it was extraordinary that the Seminoles were as bad as they were. While the loss to Miami and Louisville (both who had servicable quarterbacks) was excusable, the 35-3 blowout loss to Boston College, the struggles against Wake Forest and Duke were not.

During the season Fisher also exchanged words with a Seminoles fan after the Louisville loss, and seemed permanently under pressure.

If Fisher does move, we all know what he’ll get. He’ll get a bump in pay, the fertile recruiting ground that is Texas, and facilities that rival any school in the country. He’ll also get to play in some of college football’s biggest games, although in 2018 he’ll be going on the road both to Alabama and Auburn, and get LSU at home, as well as a small ACC team called Clemson (at home). And he’ll also get one of the most passionate fanbases in the country. If you don’t get what we’re talking about, then we advise hitting up Kyle Field for a game. And bring earplugs.

And if Fisher does move to Aggieland, Texas A&M will get themselves a coach who has won two National Championships (one as an assistant at LSU and one as head coach at FSU), various ACC titles and is a fantastic recruiter.

One person we know who is going to make out like a bandit from these affairs is Jimbo Fisher’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, who is college football’s chief powerbroker, and arguably, chief mischief-maker. He’s already cashed in on the buyouts of Sumlin as well as other coaches who have lost their jobs recently (Butch Jones at Tennessee and Jim Mora at UCLA), and will make a small fortune for himself and his company CAA if the Fisher deal goes through – or if Fisher’s given another bump in pay in Tallahassee. He wins either way from this poker game. Like he always does.

But for Seminoles and Aggies fans who are checking social media 100 times a day, they are just going to have to wait.

Ole Miss confirms Matt Luke has head coach

Ole Miss has confirmed interim coach Matt Luke as its head coach from now on.

The school, which is still under threat from NCAA sanctions stemming from the Hugh Freeze ear, beat Mississippi State on Thanksgiving night.

Ole Miss went 6-6 overall and 3-5 in the SEC – which is somewhat of a miracle bearing in mind the off-season the school had.

 

 

 

Dan Mullen is going to Florida

After failing to land Chip Kelly, Florida went for their second option: Mississippi State head coach (and former Florida offensive coordinator) Dan Mullen.

Mullen will take over from Jim McElwain, who was fired after the Gators were stomped by Georgia in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party earlier this season. The Gators will not make a bowl this year, finishing 4-7 overall (their Northern Colorado game had to be cancelled due to Hurricane Irma).

Florida fans will be praying that Mullen – who is considered somewhat of a quarterbacks guru after his excellence with Dak Prescott and Nick Fitzgerald in Starkville – will be able to recruit some quarterbacking excellence. At the moment, Felipe Franks is not making the grade, and the Malik Zaire transfer from Notre Dame has been an absolute disaster for the Gators.

Mullen, who was with the Gators when they won two National Championships under Urban Meyer, had been at Mississippi State for nine years and took them out of the world of SEC obscurity that they had occupied when Sylvester Croom was the head coach.

Under Mullen’s guidance, Mississippi State only had only two losing seasons, went 5-2 in bowl games, and went 69-46 overall. However, it must be noted that Mullen’s SEC record with the Bulldogs wasn’t great. In fact, he only managed one winning record in the SEC (2014, when the Bulldogs went 6-2), and his overall conference record was 33-39.

It is ironic that Mullen should leave just a few months after he was given a four-year contract extension. He was one of the highest-paid coaches in the SEC, earning $4.5 million per season. He should probably expect a lot more with the Gators.

What will irritate some Mississippi State fans (as well as this writer), is that it wasn’t exactly surprising that Mullen was going to leave. In fact, you could go as far as saying that Mullen used his relationships with the Mississippi State top brass to get his extensions and expand his pocket. According to reports, Mullen already tried his luck to return to the State of Florida in 2015, interviewing for the Miami job. Mark Richt beat him to the spot there.

 

Texas A&M fires Kevin Sumlin

After they lost to UCLA, Kevin Sumlin was apparently out at Texas A&M. After they played pretty well down the stretch, it looked as though his job was safe.

After the Aggies were worked by Auburn, Mississippi State and LSU at the end of the season, Sumlin was unceremoniously fired by Texas A&M on Sunday after the 42-21 loss in Tiger Stadium after six seasons in the job.

Under Sumlin, Texas A&M never had a losing season, finishing 51-26. He also helped to create a legend in Johnny Manziel, who won the Aggies their first Heisman Trophy since John David Crow celebrated victory in 1957.

The problem for Sumlin was his in-state record, which wasn’t the best. He went 4-4 four times in the SEC after his first season (with Manziel) which had a 6-2 record. His worst year was when the Aggies finished 3-5. But five out of six surely isn’t that bad.

As they did on the SEC Football Blog’s Twitter feed when we remarked that we didn’t like the Aggies’ move of firing Sumlin, Aggies fans argued vehemently that because of the massive investment the Aggies had thrown into the program, they should expect more – especially beating Auburn and LSU. During Sumlin’s time they never beat LSU and went 3-3 against Auburn and 1-5 against Alabama. They were 6-0 against Arkansas, 3-3 against Ole Miss and 3-3 against Mississippi State.

It can’t be said that Sumlin never created stars. Also Manziel wasn’t a star in the NFL, he was a star at the Aggies, as we’ve mentioned before. Myles Garrett and Mike Evans also became SEC golden boys under Sumlin’s watch. Christian Kirk – who is a sure-fire NFL star punt returner and WR, will be the next one.

One of the greatest highlights of Sumlin’s career wasn’t really about Sumlin himself, but more his race. Sumlin was the first African American head coach Texas A&M had ever hired. Soon after Charlie Strong became the first-ever African American head coach at Texas. Now they are both gone.

Anyway, good luck to Sumlin, and good luck to Texas A&M.

Bret Bielema is out at Arkansas

Bret Bielema is out at Arkansas after five years at the helm.

‘Bert’, as he’s ‘affectionately’ known by social media, was fired after the Razorbacks were beaten 48-45 in a thriller at home to Missouri, leaving the school with a 4-8 record. This is the second coach that has been fired this season after a loss to the Tigers – the first was Tennessee’s Butch Jones.

Bielema was fired almost immediately after the game. There were rumors that he had been fired as he walked off the field, but Arkansas pointed out that they hadn’t been that cruel – it was ‘actually in the coach’s office by the visitor’s locker room’, ESPN stated.

Bielema was quick to protect himself, telling the press that six out of his Top 10 players were available to play a ‘significant’ time for the Razorbacks, and he also admitted that that team didn’t have the depth of SEC West competitors. He also noted that in the five years that he’s been at the helm, he had the toughest schedule in the SEC.  Arkansas finished 1-7 in the SEC this year, with their lone win coming over Ole Miss this season in what was ironically one of the most exciting games of the conference’s fairly-moribund season.

Bielema’s SEC record was outright terrible, with a 10-24 SEC record, and a 27-29 overall record that included some embarrassing losses, particularly to Toledo. His only positive win percentage with the Hogs was bowl games (2-1).

There were some good wins during Bielema’s time, including shut-outs of ranked opponents LSU and Ole Miss in 2014, and a bowl trouncing of former hated rival Texas in the Texas Bowl in 2014.

But they weren’t enough to paper over the cracks of what was a disappointing reign for a state employee that was being paid $4.1 million by the school as well as having a contract buyout of $5.1 million.

OUR TAKE

If we’re honest, the fact that Arkansas finished bottom of the SEC West behind an Ole Miss team (who it ironically beat!) that had the shadow of NCAA sanctions floating over them and an interim coach, their second straight losing SEC record, and the fact that in Bielema’s time, they couldn’t beat their SEC West rivals very much (they had a 0-5 record against massive rival Texas A&M, which included THREE overtime games in four years, was 0-5 against Alabama, 1-4 against Auburn, 1-4 against Mississippi State and 2-3 against LSU. The only SEC West team Bielema ended having a winning record against was Ole Miss, with a 4-1 record). We all knew (pretty much) that the writing was on the wall for Bielema when Arkansas fired its head coach Jeff Long earlier this year.

Previewing The Iron Bowl and every other #RivalryWeek game in the SEC

Because it gives me a chance to ignore the extended family and watch football for three days, I love Rivalry Weekend. It starts with the Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving night, and then moves through like a hurricane until the regular season (sniff! Sniff!) winds up at the end of Saturday.

This rivalry week for the SEC looks pretty damned special. There’s an Iron Bowl at Auburn, with Alabama visiting. We’ll hear the words ‘Kick Six’ mentioned a lot, and Harvey Updyke’s name may crop up ever so often. The story that’ll probably get missed this week is about Rodney Alexander, an Alabama fan who shot an Auburn fan this week over an Iron Bowl disagreement. That almost puts Updyke and Smoking Lady to shame.

There’s also ‘Good Ole Fashioned Hate’ as Georgia goes to Georgia Tech, The Egg Bowl which sees Ole Miss and Mississippi State (regardless of what people think, they really hate each other down there), and Florida versus Florida State, which is actually going to be one of the worst games of the year (Chip Kelly or no Chip Kelly). There’s Louisville vs Kentucky in the Bluegrass Bowl, where we see LeSean Jackson play. LSU hosts Texas A&M as the ‘replacement game’ for the Aggies’ traditional Texas game (that got called off when they went to the SEC, which in my mind is still the biggest load of B.S. since the Longhorn Network) for what could be Kevin Sumlin’s goodbye, and surging Missouri goes to Arkansas is what could be Bret Bielema’s last, too. Arkansas fans are praying so.

Oh, and there’s the terrible, terrible games of Tennessee playing Vanderbilt, which pits two 0-7 SEC teams, and Florida State going to Florida. All four teams suck so much that trying to work out the best one is a law unto itself.

So here are the games in order of interest for this writer:

  1. Alabama (-4) at Auburn: There is going to be some atmosphere in Jordan-Hare – especially with the SEC West division and a potential play-off trip on the line. We should see both sides beat the living crap out of each other on the lines, but I still think Calvin Ridley can cause Auburn’s secondary more damage than Auburn’s receivers can do to Mykah Fitzpatrick and friends. PREDICTION: Alabama by 7.
  2. Georgia (-11) at Georgia Tech: A lot of people keep telling us how Georgia Tech’s slow play will stop them getting beaten into a pulp by UGA, but my argument is is that UGA’s fast play – thanks to its electric running backs and fast, fast defense – may rack up the points before Tech can even stop them. PREDICTION: Georgia by 14.
  3. Missouri (-9.5) at Arkansas: The ‘Bert Bowl’ is really interesting, because it could be Bielema and Jen’s last game. Then Wisconsin fans will scream ‘karma’. Missouri is an offensive juggernaut at the moment, but will it last against an Arkansas team who have been fighting quite a lot recently for its coach? PREDICTION: Arkansas by 3 in an upset. But carrying Bielema off the pitch would be the biggest feat by this Arkansas team.
  4. Texas A&M at LSU (-10): Another game in which we could say goodbye to another coach, the Aggies travel to LSU. Again, a sneaky pick for one of the funner games of the week, Kevin Sumlin – who is rumoured to be leaving College Station very soon indeed – has to jack up his Aggies in a game that they have never won. Ed Orgeron’s team also has a knack of playing down to its opponents. PREDICTION: No major celebrations here. LSU by 10.
  5. Clemson (-13.5) at South Carolina: If Jake Bentley can keep away from throwing INTS (the last time he played vaguely competent defenses he threw five of them), then this could be a classic. Clemson, with all their firepower, still aren’t the same team that won the National Championship last year. A Clemson loss would make an OK season for South Carolina all the sweeter, because it would knock the Tigers out of Play-Off contention for good. PREDICTION: Clemson by 10 in a battle.
  6. Louisville (-10) at Kentucky: This is more about saying goodbye to one of college football’s greatest players (Lemar Jackson). If Kentucky defends him badly, he’ll have a field day. But then again, Louisville’s ‘D’ is nothing to write home about, and Kentucky could well exploit it –especially in front of a partisan Commonwealth Stadium crowed. Oh, and there’s Bobby Petrino’s return to the SEC. Apparently, his time at Arkansas was a bit of a [motorcycle] wreck. PREDICTION: Louisville by 7 in a high-scoring thriller.
  7. Ole Miss at Mississippi State (-14.5): The rumors are circling about Dan Mullen leaving. By the end of Sunday, he could have a choice (Tennessee, Texas A&M, Arkansas). But right now he’ll have to concentrate on the Ole Miss game with Mr UT-CHATTANOOGA Nick Fitzgerald. Ole Miss can score points, too. This Egg Bowl will be very fun indeed. PREDICTION: Mississippi State by 10 – although it’s close going into the 4th
  8. Florida State (-5) vs Florida: I remember when this used to be a HUGE, HUGE GAME. Now, it’s a match-up between two of the worst teams in the State of Florida. Maybe Chip Kelly will spice up the rivalry next year – especially if Jimbo Fisher moves to Texas A&M, where he’s rumoured to be going after this year’s massive failure. PREDICTION: Florida State by 3 in a close, entertaining game.
  9. Tennessee (-1) at Vanderbilt: It’ll be like watching ‘America’s best sports crashes’. Seriously. Here at the SEC Football Blog we’ll wait around for the final score for this one…and we pity any fans actually going. PREDICTION: Tennessee by 10. That’s how bad Vanderbilt is.

The SEC Rankings after Crap Saturday don’t change very much

The best thing about Crap Saturday is that that weekend ends all the weekends of crap games, and it’s one week before our favorite long weekend of the year: Rivalry Week.

But we’ll get onto Rivalry Week tomorrow, once we’ve basked in the glory of last Saturday’s incredible SEC schedule, which saw zero upsets, one close, fun game and….er…. (in other non-SEC news) Baker Mayfield grabbed his crotch at some Kansans, and then wrote his usual apology.

So here’s your SEC rankings from 1-14.

  1. Alabama: Heroically beat Mercer to preserve unbeaten season. Games like the Mercer vs Alabama is why we love SEC Football.
  2. Auburn: Struggled early against Louisiana-Monroe, but eventually hit the gear they were looking for. They could have done with an easier tune-up before the Iron Bowl.
  3. Georgia: The Dawgs absolutely dominated Kentucky. We already can’t wait to the SEC Championship Game.
  4. Mississippi State: One week they play like they play like Champions, the next week they struggle against Arkansas. That’s why they dropped a beat. We still don’t understand Dan Mullen’s great mystery of a team. But it’s fun.
  5. LSU: Beat Tennessee in horrific conditions in which we saw goalposts nearly fall down, an Ed Orgeron interview for the ages, and Noah building an ark.
  6. Texas A&M: Won a thriller in Oxford where first-half defense was so bad we thought it was going to be a Pac-12 game. Sadly, both sides managed to play some defense in the second half, and the Aggies won 31-24. Still, it was a fun game.
  7. Missouri: The Tigers continued their surge by crushing Vanderbilt on the road. They are now bowl-eligible. After the Purdue game, that seemed unthinkable. Will Drew Lock go after this junior year? Probably….but it’s inadvisable.
  8. Ole Miss: We’re looking forward to the Egg Bowl a hell of a lot more than we did when the Rebels lost at Cal a month or two ago.
  9. South Carolina: Beat Wofford. But we’ll say this – if the Gamecocks played Kentucky right now, they’d probably beat them.
  10. Kentucky: Housed by Georgia. But the Cats are bowl-eligible, and that’s fine for Stoops & Co.
  11. Arkansas: Actually played pretty well against Mississippi State. You have to wonder what might have happened if their QBs hadn’t either been injured or suspended.
  12. Florida: The Gators actually ruined my weekend, because they beat UAB and we love Bill Clark so much that we wanted a fairytale ending to what’s been a glorious season. It’s not that we hate Florida, it’s just that we love UAB. Because UAB’s amazing.
  13. Tennessee: Battled the elements against LSU, but they were closed down by an excellent defense.
  14. Vanderbilt: Eeew. The Commodores are so damned bad at the moment that I’m taking Tennessee in the game this week.

Crap Saturday: Previewing the worst weekend in the SEC season

Some rude SEC hater (@SECexposed) called this weekend of the college football season #chickenshitSaturday, and when I looked at the SEC schedule, I had to agree. If there are any Alabama fans getting excited over the chance of watching the Crimson Tide eviscerate Mercer, then you probably need to get out more. But please don’t poison trees or smoke in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Both will get you in trouble and be the butt of jokes here, there and everywhere.

Anyway, back to this Saturday. We’re christening it ‘Crap Saturday’, because the schedule’s a load of crap.

The biggest game is….is…. LSU’s visit to coach-less Tennesseee? Missouri’s bid for getting into an unlikely bowl against Vanderbilt, who still don’t have a SEC win? Texas A&M’s trip to Ole Miss….where both teams have given up on their season? Kentucky vs Georgia, which is expected to be less spectacle and more slaughter? Frankly, we’re repping UAB’s trip to The Swamp this weekend.

So here are your weekend’s most interesting games. We’re not going to bother with Alabama hosting Mercer, Auburn hosting UL-Monroe and South Carolina-Wofford because there’s going to be nothing close about any of those games. We’d be surprised if Vegas is going to let anyone bet on these either.

OK, so here we go…

  1. UAB at Florida (-10.5): Bill Clark has done more of a miracle with that UAB team that any well-pocketed SEC head coach has done with their team. Remember this about UAB: Certain parts of University of Alabama governing board wanted to wipe the school off the face of the earth. Well, they are back, and UAB is a magical 7-3. We know about Florida and the fact that it’s been a nightmare. What else do you want us to say? Florida’s a 10.5 point favourite in this one. PREDICTION: Florida by 14. UAB keeps it interesting until the fourth quarter. 
  2. LSU (-15.5) at Tennessee: There were great parties in Knoxville when news came through that Butch Jones had been fired at Tennessee. And then Jones added to his delightful resume by walking off with $8 million and immediately started calling recruits to tell them to go find somewhere else to play. Anyway, LSU comes into town to play a team led by Brady Hoke – himself a bit of a disaster when it came to head-coaching (Michigan, cough! cough!) – who’s now the interim head coach after spending time being the defensive line coach (yeah, that defensive line that gave up 400 yards to Missouri on Saturday). LSU isn’t on fire (they didn’t play well against Arkansas until mid-way through the second quarter of the game), but they’ll have too much for the Vols. PREDICTION: LSU by 21
  3. Mississippi State (-12) at Arkansas: The pre-end-of-season bloodbath in the SEC may continue in Fayetteville this weekend as Bret Bielema hosts a Mississippi State who must feel more than a little aggrieved to have lost their game against Alabama. Not only did they lose to some terrible coaching calls, but they also lost to some terrible refereeing ones, too. Now, against Arkansas, which keeps losing games because they are flat-out terrible, they should have no problem. The problem for MSU will be how motivated they will be after a soul-destroying loss. PREDICTION: MSU by 10. 
  4. Kentucky at Georgia (-21.5): If Georgia catches the throws they are meant to catch and come out more disciplined than they were against Kentucky, then Kentucky’s going to get run over. Georgia should play angry – because they are still in a shout for a College Football Play-Off place. And with Alabama and Auburn playing joke opponents on Saturday, this is their chance to get noticed…for good reasons. PREDICTION: Georgia by 35. Most of the fourth quarter we will have to listen to Nessler and Danielson prattle on about why the Dawgs didn’t play like this against Auburn.
  5. Texas A&M at Ole Miss (-3): This may well the most fun game of the day, which both teams prepared to put up the points. Maybe that’s why Vegas is giving an O/U of 69.5. Of course, both quarterbacks will now let themselves down and the only highlight will be Christian Kirk running for his usual touchdown, and Texas A&M getting out with 10-3 victory where half of Oxford has left to go back to the tailgate. But if Nick Starkel and Jordan Ta’amu shine – as well as WR gods A.J. Brown (Ole Miss) and Kirk – then we could be in for a fine, fun game. We are expecting a lot of points. PREDICTION: Texas A&M wins by 7, but the O/U is well over the 69.5. We can’t wait! 
  6. Missouri (-8.5) at Vanderbilt: Missouri’s flying high after one of booking in back-to-back impressive games against Florida and Tennessee (albeit one without coach, and one barely with one). Drew Lock can throw bombs, and the running backs are looking very, very good. This all bodes well for Vanderbilt, who hasn’t been able to stop anybody since they were run over by Alabama, and were destroyed by Kentucky, who normally plays down to its opponents. This does not bode well for the Commodores. PREDICTION: Missouri by 17 in a high-scorer.

Oh, and congratulations to Alabama, Auburn and South Carolina on your hard-fought victories.

No surprises: Tennessee fires Butch Jones

There was a smell around the Tennessee program that was putrid, and absolutely undeniable. It was that of garbage, desperation, and giving up.

It was joked that Tennessee’s players had given up on Butch Jones way before his firing on the day after the school dropped 50 points to Missouri.

It was obvious the fans had. There was a social media tidal wave of fans saying: “Fire Butch Jones” (aside from the wags – mostly in the SEC East – with signs begging Big Orange to keep him), and there was even a failed attempt by the fanbase to show displeasure against the current management by emptying Neyland for the Southern Mississippi game – ironically the last game that the now-departed head coach won during his time in Knoxville.

Like a lot of his head coaching colleagues in the success-rabid SEC, Butch Jones was already on the hot seat when the 2017 season started. The team had just lost to Vanderbilt, had continued its run of losing to Alabama, and wasn’t competitive within the SEC anymore. Then there was the press conference were Jones referred to his team as ‘Champions of Life’ that made him sound less head coach, and more preacher. It also made the Tennessee program look like a joke, which can’t have helped the school’s relationship with the boosters. Then there was the trash can to celebrate turnovers by the Tennessee defense. By Butch Jones’ last game at Tennessee, the Volunteers were just that: Trash.

Butch Jones is the latest head coach that hasn’t lasted in Knoxville since Philip Fulmer left in 2008. Jones’ record wasn’t actually terrible, with a 51-30 overall record with a .588 overall record. Unfortunately, Jones’ SEC record wasn’t great, coming in at 14-18 with a .438 record…which should have been better in what has been a consistently down SEC East. However, it’s been noted that he was 5-15 against AP-ranked teams and 3-12 against Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

“We have been fortunate to have Coach Jones lead our program for the last five years. During that time, the program has improved tremendously in the areas of academics, discipline and community involvement,” athletic director John Currie said in a statement. “Unfortunately, we are not where we need to be competitively. For that reason, I have asked Coach Jones to step down as head football coach. I know Coach Jones will be successful moving forward, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

The problem for Butch Jones, is where else might hire him? If he goes, he seems that he will have to take a big step down in earnings. He was on a $4.11 million salary with the Vols, and his buyout is $8 million, because he had a contract signed until 2021. It was also noted that UT would have to pay less than the buyout fee if and when Jones gets hired again.

By what he’s said during press conferences and the way Tennessee fell apart, it’s likely to be more of a ‘if’ than a ‘when’.

 

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