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The Butch Jones hire didn’t make sense, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t like it.
- Updated: December 11, 2012
It’s been a while since I’ve written a post, on account of all the videos (and whatnot). But I did want to take a second and chime in (albeit late) with my take on the Butch Jones hire. But before I can address Butch Jones, I first have to address Derek Dooley.
As the basement braintrust would attest, I never bought into Dooley. I supported him, just as I’d support any UT coach. And I thought he was bright. And energetic. And someone who had all the ingredients to be a good football coach one day.
But there were no guarantees. Because let’s face it — I could have all the ingredients to make you a world class-meal, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be able to deliver. See, when it came to Dooley, I could never get past one thing: he was the La Tech coach who’d gone 17-20 during a three-year stint in a pretty shitty conference.
So I was always only lukewarm on Dooley. While most of my buddies keeled over with laughter at his Rommel press conference, I remained unimpressed. I longed for a football coach. Not a comedian. So when things turned south this year, I was all for a change. With one caveat, however.
We had to hire someone who could address the business of football. Someone who could, by name or reputation alone, immediately begin to make up for the economic fallout that would come with Dooley’s dismissal.
I never blamed UT for the Dooley hire. After all, Lane Kiffin had left us in a horrible spot. I did think the hire was a classic overcorrection, though. With a healthy dose of insecurity thrown in for good measure. The broken hearted Vol Nation blamed Kiffin’s secession (in part, at least) on his inability to “get” the Southeast. So we ran out and grabbed the son of one of the SEC’s patriarchs — a guy so Southern, he practically came with white bucks and a pair of seersucker pants.
Still, and again, I never blamed UT for the hire. It’s not as if we had a bunch of options. Or time.
But I most definitely blamed UT for the contract they gave him. Again, a classic overreaction. Again, with a healthy dose of insecurity thrown in for good measure. Both the salary and the buyout. The Vols didn’t wanna have a coach that was poorly paid compared to his SEC peers. What would that have said about the program? So we ponied up and paid Dooley way more than his body of work warranted.
And the buyout just added insult to injury. We were hell bent on never getting Kiffined again. (Richt’s seat’s pretty hot. What if Dooley leaves us for Georgia? What a joke…) You add that all up and you get $5 million. The $5 million we’re paying in monthly installments as we speak.
Essentially, we hired a tugboat captain only we pretended he was Merrill Stubing. All you young folks scratching your heads go Google Merrill Stubing real quick. One of the finest captains of all times. I’m talking The Love Boat, here, people. And Captain Stubing was one smooth operator. And don’t even get me started on the ship’s doctor, the aptly named Doc.
Do you have any idea how much tail Doc got? It was absurd. Especially given the coke-bottle glasses he was going with. And the shorts / knee-high sock combo he rocked wasn’t exactly helping matters. Still, one minute, he’d be working through a pesky tennis-elbow situation with some mega-hot, super-rich divorcee, the next, he’d be arm in arm with her on the promenade deck, their lovestruck faces basking in the soft light of a perfectly hung moon. The dude flat-out got it done.
Dooley, however, did not. He proved to be the coach I’d suspected all along. And when people would get all up in arms, I understood where they were coming from. I had plenty of up-in-arms moments, too. But another part of me would shrug in disbelief. We’d hired the La Tech coach who was 17-20. What did we expect?
Exactly why I thought the only justification for getting rid of Dooley was going HUGE on the successor. Because to a certain degree, I felt as if we’d made our bed and we had to lie in it, lest we wanted to fork over the $5 million. And the only way to justify forking over the $5 million was to swing for the fences. If we missed? Stick with the tugboat captain for another frustratingly shitty year. Dooley wasn’t ever gonna win 10 games at Tennessee. But he probably wasn’t gonna run the program into the ground, either.
That’s kinda why I (along with many others) bought into the Gruden hype. Especially when Hyams and them (I just said “and them” — heh heh) first reported the two sides were in contact. The strategy just made too much sense and it seemed like UT was playing by it.
But Gruden’s not how it turned out. Butch Jones is. Butch Jones. A man many of us had to Google when we first heard his name. A guy who only went 12-9 the last three years in Big East play. Counting buyouts, UT had to fork over $9.4 million dollars to land him. And Butch Jones doesn’t exactly have the kind of track record, name or reputation that will help ease the pain for such an expenditure. So, in Butch Jones, we didn’t exactly get a value.
But do you know what we did get in Butch Jones? A football coach. A pretty damn good one, too. A guy who won four conference championships in six years. A guy who Cincinnati deemed good enough to replace Brian Kelly. A man who has emphatically stated that he’ll have an open-door policy to all Vols, past and present. A man who’s already reached out to countless former players. A man who (according to Erik Ainge) had call Phillip Fulmer near the very top of his never-ending to-do list.
You know what else we got in Butch Jones? A man who wants to be at Tennessee.
Butch Jones had nothing to do with the circus that was UT’s hiring process. In fact, he doesn’t have anything at all to do with our past. All he has to do with is our future. And maybe I’m just this big, fat gullible sheep. Maybe, unbeknownst to me, I’m hooked up to an IV drip of orange Kool-Aid. But I like the vibe this guy gives off, and I don’t say that every single time. In fact, I haven’t said it the last two times. (You can ask the basement braintrust.)
So I, for one, am excited about Butch Jones. When it comes to the Vols’ future, he seems to have a vision.
And I’m ready to turn the page and see exactly what it is he’s looking at.
What do you think about the Butch Jones hire?