We had a slew of questions and answers about the UT coaching search, about the candidates and the future. They all became dated and trash — not unlike the empty potato chip bags and aluminum cans scattered about in the Coaching Search Command Center — when Tennessee announced Butch Jones as the Vols next football coach.
Now we've dropped the number from close to a dozen to three questions about three coaching search. From the "Talks too much" studios deep inside the CSC center, let's kick the tires and light the fires and discuss the hires...
From countless of you in the the flood of texts, emails and phone calls (seriously, it's been in the hundreds in a matter of 90 minutes),
What do you make of Butch Jones?
First, know that our beat ace Downtown Patrick Brown was on the ball this morning and had this story up ASAP.
Let's deal in fact before we get to opinion.
Fact, he was not UT's first choice, and that's OK.
Fact, he was bombed with messages into his Twitter account from UT fans asking him not to come to Tennessee.
Fact, dude had two conference titles in his three years at Cincy. That's doing work.
Fact, Jones has proven he can win, he's 50-27 in six years. He's also served three-year stretches at two schools where Brian Kelly laid a winning foundation.
Fact, the previous UT regime left nothing close to the foundation Jones inherited from Kelly in his stops at Central Michigan and Cincinnati.
Fact, he lost 45-23 to Derek Dooley and the Vols last season.
Fact, no matter what you, your co-workers, the 5-at-10 or even the entire Hart family thinks about this hire this morning, it will be ultimately graded by wins: Be them on the field or on the recruiting trail. If Jones wins, he'll be embraced; if he doesn't he'll be gone. As will Dave Hart. The feelings of this morning will fade and results will be the barometer.
As for what the 5-at-10 thinks, well, we believe Butch Jones is a good coach that could be great, but we're kind of underwhelmed, as are most of the responses we've seen from Johnny Vols Fans everywhere. Maybe that's from a lack of familiarity of Jones' work or maybe that's from an expectation of something more — remember, Dave Hart promised a home run and they moved a ton of cabbage around for this hire — or maybe it's just the wonder of whether this guy can compete with the hired guns and home-run hitters that roam across the SEC.
There are two unofficial gauges about coaching hires we like to use:
First, does the coach’s former fan base want him to stay? Jones passed this one with flying colors as Cincy fans were abuzz hoping to keep him.
Second, how is the hire perceived and received among rival fan bases? Here’s saying Johnny Tide Fan, Johnny Bulldogs Fan and Johnny Gators Fan are not shaking in their cleats because Butch Jones is coming to the league.
Side note: For those you wanting to know about Butch Davis, well, he's still unemployed.
If Tennessee had hired Larry Fedora the rest of the SEC will immediately be bummed that such a cool character from the movie Goodfellas was named Tennessee's new head coach.
After being told Larry Fedora wasn't a character from the movie Goodfellas, the rest of the SEC will have to be reminded what SEC school we're talking about again.
Tell me this is possible.
PS — Congrats on the Auburn hire.
Be nice, and this goes for the rest of the Non-Johnny Vols Fans out there, too. Coaching searches can be painful — and this Tennessee one has been a doozy — and the unknown and the uncertainty can consume you. This is not like losing on Saturday or missing on a big recruit. Those are the daily dealings of being an SEC fan and invite and deserve heckling from other fan bases.
Coaching searches are more personal, and more emotionally draining. It's like your kids going through the dating process — there are going to those you like and those you don't for a slew of reasons (are they polite; have a good job/are they defensive minded; can they recruit) but in the end it's some one else's decision and you're forced to accept it and try to convince yourself it's a good call and it will work out for the best. It’s not like you can break-up with your kids or your school. So you deal with it and hope for the best knowing that Christmas dinner and other holidays and Saturdays in the Fall depend greatly on finding the right match.
And remember, whether you have Saban or some first-year guy who has no chance, every team goes through a coaching search, and they are all tension-filled and draining. Go easy on Johnny Vols Fans this week, huh?
That said, if Larry "The Hat" Fedora faces off against Les "The Mad Hatter" Miles, that game has to be sponsored by New Era, right? Fedora has said he will stay at UNC, so the beat and the beatings continue for Dave Hart's search.
Whether he was desperate or not, Jones was not be the worst hire, although that's not exactly high praise.
To make UT fans feel better here's our list of worst possible hires for the Vols next coach and we feel certain that Dave Hart did NOT contacted any of them:
1) Promote Sal — SAAALLLLL!!! — Sunseri
2) Re-hire Derek Dooley
3) Lane Kiffin
4) John L. Smith
5) Rodney Allison
From CelticVol (part I, Wednesday morning)
This is all I've got after this roller coaster of a week.....I'm speechless after all this stuff this morning. My mind can't develop a question.
From CelticVol (part II, Wednesday afternoon)
This is just unreal. Hart has made this into a circus. I’m just sick. I was super excited last Friday morning when you guys came out with the report. Then my hopes were dashed by that afternoon. Then last night I hear that Strong is the man and now this morning he’s not. Then it’s Gundy and now I hear he’s getting an extension. I want to scream! Is UT really that bad of a job? I don’t get it.
We thought this was relevant considering the CUH-razy actions of this week.
Of course UT is not that bad of a job. UT is a great job, and one of the things that we think gives Butch Jones a chance to succeed is we truly believe Jones knows this is a great job. He wanted this job and turned down other jobs for a chance at being here. That’s a good thing.
Now, is the UT job in a great place? No.
Is it going to require a great deal of work? Absolutely.
As for Hart, he made his hire, and he has tied his future in Knoxville to Butch Jones.
In fact we tweeted this earlier: Here should be Butch Jones’ to-do list: Pick up suit from the cleaners, buy orange tie, come up with an Alabama insult, Mapquest Ridgeland High School so we can get by and see Vonn Bell’s game tonight.
So it goes.
I'm sure you're being bombed with UT coach this and UT coach that, so let's go a different direction.
Kevin Youkilis is in talks with the Yankes. THE YANKEES!?!?! Don't do it Youk, please don't do it.
What are the biggest flip-flops you can recall that shows us stupid fans that prove Michael Corleone right ("It's business; never personal")?
Biggest flip-flops: Clemens going to the Yankees; Rowdy Roddy Pipper; Rick Pitino going to Louisville; Ray Allen going to Miami. What others are out there?
There's a whole other category for owners that move their teams to different cities of course. And there's an entire category for LeBron taking his talents to South Beach.
But you bring up an awesome scenario. Imagine how nuts Yankees Stadium would be for that season opener against Boston, if Youklis signed with them. Heck, we'd let him bat leadoff and DH for the that first game so that the first time he stepped on the field was to lead off the bottom of the first. And we'd play "Hair of the Dog" by Nazareth — "Now you're messin' with a..."
Obviously Tuesday's story about Laura Herron drew more buzz than intended. Not necessarily about her day to day routine as much for the following paragraph:
"Herron is at the helm during an interesting time for the Southern Conference. Last Friday the College of Charleston voted to leave for the Colonial Athletic Association, and Georgia Southern and Appalachian State may be on the move sooner rather than later."
While the CoC story is nothing new, the fact that the "often rumored" jump of Georgia Southern and Appy State to the FBS has gotten the local rumor mill fired up.
Aside from Frierson's sources being legit (I never doubt his creditability), it does open a lot questions which I do not expect you to have the answers for, but fun to play with.
What conferences would GSU/ASU be best suited for? Contrary to Spy's belief, The Sun Belt would be a challanging conference given the number SEC giant killers and those who scare them.
What upgrades would need to be made for Kidd Brewer and Paulson Stadium to begin to look remotely like Jorden-Hare, Stanford, and Neyland?
Once said upgrades are complete, how soon before they start hosting big-boy teams? I know that sounds funny BUT...this year SMU host Texas A&M (yes, THAT A&M) and from "personal" experience, Ford Stadium only seats 32,000 (that's 10,000 more than Finley!) and Louisiana-Monroe hosted Baylor (yes, THAT Baylor) at 30,427 seat Malone stadium. Thus it is possible (though HIGHLY unlikely) that we may see Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia or Florida one day playing at either the Rock or the Marsh.
More importantly, how will fans react once the "sticker-shock" sets in? Here's what I mean. SoCon game regardless of team is $15.00. A "typical" SMU or UNT game will be $45.00 for the just the nosebleed section. Factor in an A&M or Georgia as your home team opponent and we are "literally" talking over $95 just for the nosebleed seats. Lets face it, loyality can only go so far when your checkbook is involved. Then again, I still don't see how people pay what they do for admission into "Jerry's World" when we're 6-6 but that's another debate.
The news and rumblings about App State and GSU have become louder and more common. And we think that will be more true in the years to come as the college football playoff expands.
We think Sun Belt would be the first option, and we think it would be a tough road, no doubt.
We also think geography — getting to Boone and Statesboro is no picnic — is as big a hurdle as facilities.
We’re swamped with coach stuff, but we’ll get more into this in the coming days. Deal? Deal.
Now about Butch Jones...
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...