Tennessee fans, you may want to sit down for this…
While many expect head coach Butch Jones’ termination to be inevitable, SB Nation reports that the coach still has some job security left and is being given a chance to win out in order to keep the Vols’ recruiting class intact through December’s early signing period.
“With Week 10’s win over Southern Miss, Butch Jones’ job security is technically alive, albeit on life support. The message inside the program is that UT needs to win out and keep its recruiting class intact through December’s early signing period.”
Tennessee has three games remaining against Missouri, LSU and Vanderbilt. Presumably, if Jones won all three, he would keep his job, according to the report.
However, coaches and agents are reportedly treating Tennessee as if its an inevitable open job, according to the website.
“At other schools, coaches and agents are treating Tennessee like an open job. Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen is the most frequently discussed name (that isn’t Jon Gruden). Multiple coaching sources confirm Mullen would “fit” with new athletic director John Currie.”
Currie, who was hired by the university this past spring, has drawn criticism for keeping Jones employed this long, despite a winless record in five SEC games, two blowout losses, two losses to historically inferior rivals and a 15 quarter offensive touchdown drought during the 2017 season.
However, the athletic director told reporters last week that he understands why fans are angry and is focused on making improvements to the program.
“Certainly I understand our fan frustration,” Currie said. “We’re not where we want to be. It’s unacceptable to be 0-5 in the Southeastern Conference, but we are where we are. As I said Monday night, our focus is on our student-athletes, and I know that’s what Coach Jones is thinking about right now, is getting our team ready to play Saturday.”
Last week, Outkick The Coverage said the UT athletic department is undergoing an investigation into whether Jones and his coaching staff knowingly kept starting offensive tackle Brett Kendrick in last week’s loss to Kentucky despite suffering a concussion midway through the game.
This followed a report by The Read Optional that claimed Kendrick played through the game’s two quarters with a concussion and was benched in the final minute after vomiting on the sideline. Athletic director John Currie responded to the report with an official statement denying the team had any knowledge that lineman was concussed during the time of the incident.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes is our number one responsibility. Our sports medicine staff and team medical personnel have full autonomy and unquestioned authority during all team activities, including the ability to remove a player from competition and ‘return to play’ decisions. At all football games, the Southeastern Conference has a trained independent medical observer present who also has full authority to stop play and remove a student-athlete from competition for assessment and/or treatment.
“We have a constant and consistently communicated expectation that all coaches, staff and student-athletes remain attentive to ensure that any potential injuries are appropriately addressed—with full intentions that student-athlete safety is never compromised.”
Jones has also been accused of “bullying” by former VFL coordinator Antone Davis during his resignation email, although that was reported by WNML’s Jimmy Hyams on Friday after Currie’s comments had already been made.
Tennessee officials reportedly discussed the coach’s future with the program on Sunday night, which concluded with Currie passing through the football wing of the Anderson Training Center.
Coincidentally, Jones claimed that he believes Currie will “absolutely” support him through the remainder of the season following the Vols’ loss to Kentucky one day prior.