In 2017, it was easy to be an Alabama fan. It was easy to be a Georgia fan. It was easy to be an Auburn fan. Hell, at the end of the season, it was easy to be a LSU fan and a Missouri fan.

But it wasn’t an easy year for Tennessee fans.

This inaugural award doesn’t go to the Tennessee fans who started up the #EmptyNeyland campaign, aimed to show fans’ chagrin at Butch Jones. It doesn’t go to the people who jumped on the ‘No Schiano’ bandwagon, like my former priest, who claimed not to care about Tennessee – or any college football for that matter – because he was ‘too busy with kids, but managed to whack a sermon of Facebook telling everybody who would listen: ‘I don’t know who runs the decision making at the University of Tennessee, but this is a travesty. I’d never let any of my sons anywhere near a coach like this”, adding: “I’m absolutely appalled the University of Tennessee would hire anyone who was anywhere near that kind of horrific culture. It’s completely tone-deaf, and a giant middle finger to ethics, integrity, and wise program-building”. It doesn’t go to people who painted the rock with hate about former AD John Currie, Butch or Greg.

It goes to the Tennessee fans who stayed.

It goes to the Tennessee fans who kept going to games, even when they knew it wasn’t going to end nicely. It’s the fans who didn’t leave even when Georgia was up 42-0 with five minutes to go in the fourth quarter. It’s the fans who went to both home and away games, and kept rooting for their team, despite the carnage on (and off) the field, led by the likes of Clay Travis, ESPN and Twitter (including yours truly, who really thought Butch Jones should have gone last season).

It goes to the Tennessee fans who didn’t sign up to the #EmptyNeyland campaign. Those Tennessee fans who said: “Hell, I don’t know who’s gonna be coach next year, but it doesn’t really matter, but I’m going to be rooting for them anyway”. Those Tennessee fans who care about the team that they were willing to take the verbal barbs from the Georgia and Alabama fans at work, because whether their SEC brethren liked it or not, they were gonna keep supporting their team.

The Tennessee Fan Who Stayed Around deserves to be supported, given a round of applause and a pat on the back. We hope for the Tennessee Fan Who Stayed Around that times will be better under new coach Jeremy Pruitt. While some Tennessee fans will demand an 9-3 or 8-4 year at the worst in the first two years of Pruitt’s tenure, the Tennessee Fan Who Stayed Around will acknowledge that some things take time, like the brewing process of the moonshine he had after hunting deer in the Appalachians.

And most of all, it goes to the Tennessee students, who stayed around to say that they still believed in the team at whatever cost. Whether the fanbase likes it or not, the students have to suffer, because random SEC fans will tell them over Thanksgiving or Christmas: “Tough Year”. They won’t be talking about Grandma’s illness or even the retirement of Dale Jr, but they’ll be talking about the football team. This is the Tennessee student who’s still got three years to go, because it may not be the easiest wearing orange.

Happy Christmas, Tennessee fans, you’re our fans of the year.

Note: Vanderbilt fans came close, and then we remembered that Vanderbilt’s win over Kansas State as well as eviscerating the Vols made them the second most-suffering fanbase in the SEC. 

Great hire: Tennessee hires Pruitt to be new head coach

It came at the cost of one athletic director and a lot of red faces in Knoxville. A lot of Volunteers fans were the butt of jokes about the social media. And then Tennessee hired a former head coach as an AD, and within a few days, the school had installed a new coach from hated rival Alabama – defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

While details on Pruitt’s contract are not known, Pruitt was hired over Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker and Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele. All three had done fantastic jobs at their respective schools this season.

Of course, the hiring of Pruitt did not come without its controversy. Apparently Jimmy Haslem, the school’s powerhouse booster, wanted Tucker for the job, but Philip Fulmer – who was driven out in 2008 for not taking the Vols to the heights he took them in 1998 when he won Knoxville a National Championship – would have none of it. He plumped for Pruitt.

It’s hard to argue with Pruitt when it comes to his defensive numbers. Pruitt’s one of the best – if not the best – defensive coordinator in college football.

Working under Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher at Alabama and at Florida State before that (with a trip under Mark Richt at Georgia in between), Pruitt’s defenses were always in the top five in their respective seasons. The amount of defensive players who have left Alabama and Florida State after playing for him is staggering.

Pruitt is also seen as a fantastic recruiter, and with the name Alabama, Florida State and Georgia carried he was able to get talent from all over the country.

What’s interesting about Pruitt’s resume is that he’s never stayed anywhere for very long. He’s had five jobs at big schools (Alabama/Florida State/Georgia/back to Alabama) in 10 years. We don’t know whether that was his own hot feet or whether it was created by Jimmy Sexton, his agent who is renowned for placing his head coaches and their assistants in well-paying jobs.

It’ll be interesting if he’s loyal to Tennessee – or the people in Knoxville are that loyal to him.

This season he’s got quite the turnaround to do, with home games against Alabama as well as Florida (who will almost certainly be revitalised under head coach Dan Mullen), and evil road games at Auburn and Georgia. He also opens his Tennessee career with a tricky opening game against West Virginia in Charlotte. He’ll be happy it wasn’t Morgantown.

BOTTOM LINE: Despite all the stumbling around, Tennessee has made a fantastic hire on paper in Jeremy Pruitt. He knows the area, he’s a fantastic career, and he also knows the SEC as well as anyone in college football. Having said that, Tennessee’s schedule is hardly easy, so a bowl game would be a success for the Vols in 2018.

 

 

 

Tennessee fires AD John Currie, replaces him with Fulmer

If there is a celebration to be had in Knoxville at the moment, then surely today is an early tonic: Tennessee has just fired John Currie, its athletic director.

They have now replaced him with Phil Fulmer, who was run out of Knoxvville as head coach in 2008, despite winning the Vols a National Championship.

Although Currie was regularly attacked for the Greg Schiano incident, where he reportedly offered the Ohio State DC the job, and then had VolNation throw it back in face with such force that he had to rescind it again, he really should have left his post some time beforehand.

Under his eight-month guidance, Tennessee football was a shambles. The Vols didn’t win a SEC game and finished the season with such style that Vanderbilt dropped more than 40 points on them at home in the ‘Battle Of The Winless’. Their head coach Butch Jones was a running joke throughout the season, and no-one seemed to tell him when to shut up. Oh, and the rock, which seems to paint slogans every five seconds in Knoxville, spat out hatred for Currie, for Schiano, and Jones.

Thanks to the Schiano incident – which could cost Tennessee millions if Schiano sues the school for slandering his ‘good’ name – the once proud Orange is now one of the most poisonous jobs to take in college football. The school is run by its boosters and by social media, and no longer by its head coach. The school must be looking at itself and saying: “We shouldn’t have gotten rid of Phil Fulmer”.

Currie’s choices (by social media) about who to appeal to have been head-scratchers. Davie Doeren of NC State and Jeff Brohm of Purdue has reportedly walked away from offers. There have been no discussions with Memphis head coach Mike Norvell, who is in charge of one of the most fun offenses in college football, and there have been no discussions with Tee Martin, who was the QB on the last National Championship Tennessee had.

If Currie had done is job properly he would have fired Jones after the Kentucky game. While it was excusable to get blown out by Alabama and Georgia, losing to Kentucky was not. He should have gone them – and it probably would have saved his job.

Aldso under his job, Tennessee athletics in general has been mired in failure. While it has always spawned good athletics, the school hasn’t won a National Championship in any sport since Women’s Indoor Track & Field took home victory in 2009. Currie’s job was to change that, and he failed to do so.

But for now, Tennessee fans can celebrate. Currie is out, and the school can move on. And will do with Fulmer at the helm.

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.

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’.

 

More trouble at Tennessee? Key RB suspended after pot arrest

If it wasn’t the persistent losing, or the middle fingers put up against Alabama fans, or even the hot seat that’s frying Butch Jones right now, then the under-fire coach has had to do something else: Suspend his top running back.

John Kelly, who’s had 615 yards on 125 carries and 6 TDs, as well as 26 receptions for 255 yards (averaging 9.8 yards per reception), is a key playmaker, was cited on marijuana possession on Wednesday.

Kelly consented to the search, and officers asked Ignont to get out of the car, the statement said. During the search, they found “a clear plastic baggie containing a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana” as well as “a glass pipe usually used to smoke marijuana,” according to the statement from Knoxville Police. The baggie contained 4.6 grams of marijuana, which Kelly and linebacker Will Ignont (who hasn’t played much for the Vols).

The two players drove away from the scene, but not away from Jones.

Members of our football team have a responsibility to represent the University of Tennessee in a first-class manner. I met with John and Will and they understand their actions were unacceptable,” Jones said in a statement.

Tennessee plays at Kentucky this weekend, then it’s Southern Miss and then a trip to Missouri.

In our view, it would be a surprise if Jones doesn’t have Kelly back for the Missouri game.

 

Who should go: Bret Bielema or Butch Jones?

If you had one choice of who to get rid of who would it be? Would it be Tennessee head coach Butch Jones, who seems to pour out vomit whenever he speaks or Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema, who is looking increasingly inept as his team falls down the tubes?

Tennessee is currently 3-2 overall (0-2 in the SEC), while Arkansas is 2-3 overall (0-2) in the SEC. It’s the 0-4 combined record in our beloved conference that the fanbases won’t stand for.

We put out the cases for both:

THE CASE FOR BUTCH JONES

The saddest thing for Butch Jones is that he doesn’t measure up to the stars of the past for Tennessee. Before he was run out of town, Philip Fulmer delivered a National Championship in 1998, and there’s not been anyone since. Lane Kiffin waltzed out of Neyland to take the USC job after improving the team, but since then, Derek Dooley brought nothing but hatred to the table, and Jones brought a lot of confidence, but he’s only overseen one winning record in the SEC (2015), never won the SEC East, and overall he’s 14-20. And that’s in a pretty weak SEC.

Recruiting-wise, Jones had a great 2015 but 2016 and 2016 have been mediocre, to say the least. There have been a few successes coming through, but really you can’t help but think it’s been a rather large disappointment.

On the field really seems to be pissing off Tennessee fans is the inability to beat Alabama and the fact that the school has only won one in 12 against Florida (although arguably the Vols should have won this year in The Swamp). This year, the team doesn’t seem to have gone forward, getting shredded 41-0 at home to Georgia. Yes, we know that they are missing talent (QB Josh Dobbs has graduated and RB Alvin Kamara’s gone to the NFL), but this team’s gone so far back that it’s insane.

And if you think it’s a trainwreck on the field, wait until Butch opens his mouth. It becomes a bigger trainwreck off it. You see, he doesn’t seem to understand that saying “[The senior class] has won the biggest championship – that’s the championship of life”, is going to irk the fanbase. Especially when a few days after they lose to Vanderbilt. And this season, when the team’s more famous for  in-practice scraps between players than good news, Jones pours gas on the already-lit fire underneath his own ass by claiming that last week’s bye week was “the best [the team] has had in a long time” and in the same conference saying: “You don’t have to get a physical rep to get a rep. You can get a leadership rep,” then it makes things worse.

Oh, and he tried to get the fanbase as well as college football fans on his side by getting ESPN journalist Chris Low to sit with his family during the flattening by Georgia. Needless to say, it didn’t make anyone look great – particularly when his kid’s pointing out that the team makes the same gaffes over and over again.

So that’s why Tennessee should get rid of Butch Jones: He’s an oaf in front of the media, his players are fighting each other, and the team isn’t winning. And his buyout is only $6.8 million.

And if you’re going to fire Butch Jones, then go get David Cutcliffe from Duke and putting him into Knoxville. He’s already served there under Philip Fulmer, he’s loved by the fanbase, he’s an offensive god, and he’s an excellent recruiter. And if you don’t understand how good he is a coach, then check out Duke’s record before and after his arrival.

THE CASE FOR BRET BIELEMA

Bret Bielema has the greatest agent in the world in Neil Conrich: His buyout is $15.4 million – which is a hell of a lot of money. We don’t know where that ranks in terms of SEC buyouts, but we think it’s probably pretty high.

Which is strange, because it wasn’t so much ‘Bert’ who managed to piss off the college football world when he came to town after a successful time at Wisconsin, it was his wife, who apparently likes to invoke Buddhist tradition into her social media efforts. Unfortunately, karma has come to bite Mrs Bielema in the ass in a hard way – especially when his team was embarrassed by Toledo at home in 2015. And while Wisconsin has continued to from strength to strength, Bielema’s time at Arkansas has been, ahem, difficult – and his record in the SEC has been abysmal.

Bielema started out SEC life 0-13, and he got the monkey off his back, he’s gone below .500 in victories (10-11). Against Alabama and Texas A&M, he’s 0-8 to both teams combined. Otherwise, he’s 1-3 against Auburn and 1-3 against Mississippi State. The LSU rivalry is currently tied at 2-2, while he has a winning record against Ole Miss (3-1). He’s never finished above 3rd in the West.

This season, Arkansas lost to Texas A&M in a game they probably should have won, and gave up three defensive touchdowns in a 48-22 shellacking in Columbia. Although the loss to TCU is looking better and better (the Horned Frogs are still unbeaten and have accounted for Oklahoma State and West Virginia in their victories), there isn’t a lot of hope that the Razorbacks will win even one of Alabama, LSU and Auburn. You can’t help but think that if Arkansas was back in the Southwest Conference (or Big XII, as it’s known now) and the Razorbacks were consistently failing against Texas and Oklahoma then Bielema wouldn’t be in a job.

In other words: Fire Bielema, and life’s going to be a lot easier for the program. Maybe they might find a coach who doesn’t look so lost on the sidelines. And a wife who doesn’t tweet.

And if you’re going to fire Bielema, then go get Les Miles. The guy is a great recruiter, he’s good in Texas, and he’s won in the SEC before. And he’ll probably come pretty cheap bearing in mind he’s looking for a job at the moment.

SO WHO SHOULD BE FIRED FIRST? We’ll take Jones, because of his imbecilic tones with the media. He’s a Champion of Idiocy.

 

 

Five SEC coaches on hot seat in 2017 – Fox Sports

Five SEC coaches are among the top 12 college football coaches who should be looking over their shoulder come 2017, FoxSports.com has said.

They are:

  • Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M)
  • Gus Malzahn (Auburn)
  • Butch Jones (Tennessee)
  • Bret Bielema (Arkansas)
  • Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss)

Among the things blamed were late season collapses in 2016 (all of these except for Freeze), and an atmosphere of uncertainty around the Ole Miss program – especially bearing in mind worries about the potential NCAA sanctions stemming from a string of alleged misbehaviours from the Ole Miss staff – including paying players.

Sumlin’s below-par performances at the back-end of the season and the inability of Texas A&M to beat big division rivals (ie Alabama and LSU)  lately has certainly warmed his seat, while Bret Bielema’s not exactly loved at Arkansas at the moment – especially after the season’s catastrophic loss to Missouri. Gus Malzahn is the

Gus Malzahn is the strangest for us. Fox Sports.com said: “Then the Sugar Bowl happened. Then his highly regarded offensive coordinator left for less money at UConn. It’s all setting up for the 2017 season to be just as rocky as 2016, and there’s no guarantee Gus will survive that ride.”  It wasn’t a surprise that Auburn lost to Oklahoma as it was Auburn losing to Georgia earlier in the season, which was perhaps a far bigger sin in our eyes. The fact that Auburn’s offensive co-ordinator Rhett Lashlee went to UConn seemed to be a strange decision. Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich was thought to be a contender, only for news to come through that he’s pulled himself out of contention.

 

Star Tennessee RB to transfer?

Tennessee running back Jalen Hurd has told Butch Jones as well as his teammates that he wants to transfer, according to reports.

Hurd apparently wants to play wide receiver and tight end at his new school – something he’s not doing in VolWorld.

Hurd has 451 yards rushing and 3 TDs and 81 yards receiving and 2 TDs.

He was injured for the Texas A&M game and was ineffective in his return games against Alabama and South Carolina.

Tennessee staff said Hurd, a junior would meet with Jones later in the day.

This is hardly wonderful news in a difficult three weeks for Tennessee, which has seen their team lose three straight painful games – especially last Saturday’s stunning loss to South Carolina at Williams-Brice.

 

 

Jones denies Bowles allegations

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones has denied allegations that he called former wide receiver Drae Bowles a “traitor” for helping a female student who was allegedly raped by two of his Volunteers teammates.

Jones said in a statement:The assertion that I ever attempted to belittle or demean a young man for taking action to help another person is absolutely false. To the contrary, I did all I could to assist the former student in question. During the course of the judicial process, campus officials, as well as the young man’s own words, will clearly establish that I have done nothing wrong. I will fight all of these false attacks on my character, and I know that once this process has been completed, my reputation will be affirmed.

 

 

 Page 1 of 4  1  2  3  4 »