Butch Jones has been considered on one of the hottest seats in college football by many around the country, but one of the men who makes the decisions, new athletic director John Currie, is pushing back on that notion, via SEC Country.
Asked his thoughts on the latest attacks on Jones, Currie referred to recent comments from former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer.
“I think I would defer to our hall of fame head coach who lives in town, Phillip Fulmer,” Currie said. “He had some very descriptive comments that maybe a sitting athletic director can’t make about that kind of talk.”
Those comments from Tennessee legend, Philip Fulmer?
“People ask, ‘If he doesn’t win nine or 10 games do you get rid of him — are you kidding me?” Fulmer said. “Have y’all paid attention the past four or five years?”
This was all apparently in response to FOX Sports’ Colin Cowherd saying Jones was the leader in the clubhouse to get fired this season.
Under Jones, Tennessee has won three consecutive Bowl games and is coming off of back-to-back 9-4 years.
This is the second time in less than a month Currie has gone out of his way to vouch for Jones:
“As an athletics director, I think you’ve got be really careful about ever evaluating things based upon specifics records or things that can be kind of arbitrary,” Currie said. “That’s a funny-looking ball, and it bounces lots of different directions. What I’m always looking at is, ‘What’s the overall state of our program, with the organization, the enthusiasm, the momentum?’
“If you look at those three things, we’re right at the top.”
Not wanting to make rash decision about a coach’s future based on record alone? That’s a smart decision.
Saying that a team’s record is arbitrary, and then comparing it to things like “enthusiasm” and “momentum” that are actually arbitrary is… bizarre to say the least.
Nonetheless, it does appear that Jones has some real backing from the new athletic director, and that should bode well for him and the Volunteers for the upcoming season. One of the worst things an athletic department can do is put their coach publicly on the hot seat before the season — looking at you Texas and Texas A&M — because that never seems to end well and it puts the entire program in a rough spot in recruiting and perception for the whole year.