The Tennessee Vols were picked to win the SEC East before the season started. They gave the East to Florida when they lost to a horrible South Carolina team.
Tennessee fans were booking flights to New Orleans to play in the Sugar Bowl, but after they allowed Vandy to score the most points against Tennessee since scoring 51 in 1923, they sent Vandy to a bowl game and ruined New Years Eve plans for Tennessee fans. Flat out embarrassing.
It looks like the Vols will now be playing in the Victory Stadium Bowl in Roanoke, VA. (Victory Stadium was an historic stadium in the Roanoke Valley, but it was demolished in 2006.) The Vols couldn’t beat the armpit of the SEC, Vanderbilt who lost to South Carolina, Kentucky and Missouri. And they lost to South Carolina who got blown out 56-7 Clemson.
This is the same team that started out ranked, won the first five games and put the Vols back in the national spot light. The 2nd half team that out scored Florida 35-7 was so impressive. And the team that took Texas A&M to OT was a team that could play with anyone in the country. But the season was never the same after the A&M loss. Even with all the injuries, the talent was there. The coaching wasn’t there.
Butch Jones has built the program with the phrase brick-by-brick and now the program is falling apart brick-by-brick. It’s heartbreaking to watch for the fans who stood by this program and invested their time, money and loyalty to a coach who can’t manage games or a complete season.
An 8-4 record for the 2016 regular season is the same record as the 2015 regular season. It’s funny how 8-4 feels more like 4-8 this year. We had the talent to be 11-1 and we expected to be proud of a 10-2 record. It all came down to coaching and it has gotten harder and harder to defend a coach we want to root for.
Even if Butch Jones pulls a Kiffin and tries to leave Knoxville in the middle of the night, nothing about this season helps his coaching resume. Leaving on his own would expose his lack of ability to handle pressure. Until he completes the mission of a championship at UT he will never coach a better program.
So where do the Vols go from here? Do they fire Butch Jones and go after Les Miles? Do they keep Jones and force him to get better assistants? With Tennessee’s AD, Dave Heart retiring in June, will this help move the football program forward or do we have to start the rebuilding process all over again?
What happens next year when the team losses Josh Dobbs, Cameron Sutton, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Derek Barnett and it is likely that Alvin Kamara only has one more game in a Tennessee jersey? How do we recover from losing those starters? How do we recover?