After scare from UMass, Butch Jones should be coaching for his job vs. Georgia
Tennessee topped UMass 17-13 Saturday afternoon on Rocky Top
It exited embarrassed, shaken and with a coach in Butch Jones who has one more chance to prove he's the right man for the job -- next week at home against rival Georgia.
That's it. That game should be the referendum on Jones.
The Vols looked lifeless, unprepared and uninspired in the 17-13 win over the Minutemen and that's on Jones. After losing in heart-breaking fashion to Florida last week on a 63-yard Hail Mary from Feleipe Franks to Tyrie Cleveland at the gun, you'd expect a little bit of a hangover on Rocky Top. But not like this.
Tennessee should never need a defensive stand in the final minute to escape a challenge against what was an 0-4 Independent bottom feeder with losses to Hawaii, Coastal Carolina, Old Dominion and Temple; that lost its starting quarterback during the game and was without star tight end Adam Breneman.
Now the listless Vols -- with no stable quarterback play -- will host Georgia's ultra-athletic defense in Neyland Stadium next week in a game that will define Jones career.
If they quit, Tennessee athletic director John Currie should quit on Jones.
There's a bye week after the Georgia game, prior to another home tilt vs. South Carolina and the road trip to Alabama. That would be the perfect time to hit the reset button, relieve some of the pressure that Jones being on the hot seat has conjured up on Rocky Top and allow Currie get a little bit of a jump start on the coaching silly season -- that should kick into high gear once we hit November.
If the Vols get off the mat and spring the upset, it would be a sign that there's fight left. There's hope. There's reason to play this thing out a bit to see if Jones can find some sort of magic to keep the Vols in contention for the SEC East title.
One game. That's all Jones deserves at this point.
It's already clear that eight regular season wins is his ceiling as a head coach, after successfully building the program back "brick-by-brick" from the Derek Dooley era. Passing seven times inside the 10-yard line against Florida, getting tested by UMass and losing a rivalry game to Georgia would be enough proof that those bricks are crumbling, and Tennessee's house is in desperate need of a renovation.
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