KNOXVILLE - One coach who faced Tennessee during Butch Jones' time as the Volunteers' football coach thinks Jones did a "complete horse (bleep) job."
The comment was revealed in the annual Southeastern Conference football preview magazine produced by Lindy's that hit newsstands Tuesday.
The shortcomings that derailed the former Tennessee coach's tenure have been well-documented and dissected, but the remarks from the anonymous coach published in the magazine are particularly scathing toward Jones, who is now an intern at Alabama.
The anonymous coach was also harsh on Tennessee's roster.
"And I don't think they have very good players," he said, according to Lindy's. "Tennessee is supposed to have talent. I think South Carolina has better talent than Tennessee, and that should never happen."
Jones was fired last November after Tennessee lost at Missouri and fell to 4-6. The Volunteers finished the year 4-8 for the first eight-loss season in program history, despite having done well in recruiting rankings during Jones' tenure.
"To say Tennessee has had top 15 classes under Butch Jones, that's fake news," the anonymous coach told Lindy's. "I think it was a combination of the classes being overrated and the coaches not developing the talent."
The blunt remarks were among several reflections on a tumultuous year in Tennessee football published in a wave of preview magazines released this month.
"If you're going to botch a coaching search so wildly that it plays like a hilariously bad comedy flick, you might as well end up with a well-thought-of Alabama assistant in the end," Lindy's wrote of Tennessee's transition from Jones to Jeremy Pruitt, who was hired in December.
Athlon ranked Pruitt No. 11 of 21 new head coaching hires. Street and Smith's college football preview magazine ranked Pruitt No. 7 in its evaluation of the same category.
In an editor's roundtable feature included in the Athlon magazine, editor Braden Gall chose Pruitt as his response to the question, "What was the most puzzling hire?"
"A guy who was likely outside the top 15 candidates when the search started is now the head coach at Tennessee, one of the winningest and most financially successful programs in the nation," Gall wrote. "He might be just the right blend of coaching talent and work ethic - or he could have no idea what it takes to be a big-time SEC head coach at a powerhouse institution."
Of Street and Smith, Lindy's and Athlon, only Street and Smith predicted Tennessee will make a bowl game in Pruitt's first season.
The magazine projected the Vols will finish fourth in the SEC East and play in the Music City Bowl.
Athlon predicted Tennessee will finish 5-7 overall and 2-6 in the SEC. Athlon ranked sophomore offensive lineman Trey Smith, who has not yet been medically cleared for the 2018 season, as a preseason first-team All-SEC performer and put junior safety Nigel Warrior on its preseason All-SEC third team.
Lindy's preseason rankings of Smith and Warrior mirrored those published by Athlon. But Lindy's also ranked sophomore running back Ty Chandler as a preseason second-team All-SEC player for the "all-purpose" position.
All three publications featured Chandler on the covers of their magazines distributed in Knoxville.
Contact David Cobb at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DavidWCobb and on Facebook at facebook.com/volsupdate.