If you look at Butch Jones' numbers at Tennessee on the surface, it appears that things are going pretty well.
Jones has put together back-to-back nine-win seasons, won three-straight bowl games, and helped the Volunteers move to 3-1 in 2017 with a win over UMass on Saturday.
All is not well in Knoxville, though.
If you watched the game Saturday, you probably noticed Tennessee barely escaped with a 17-13 home win over the 0-4 Minutemen. Much like it did last season in the opener against Appalachian State, and then again two weeks later against Ohio. The Volunteers constantly appear to be woefully under prepared for teams they should be beating by multiple touchdowns, and that falls on Jones.
Tennessee had an opportunity to make a statement after suffering a disappointing loss on a Hail Mary to Florida a week ago, but instead came out flat and were nearly embarrassed. That loss to the Gators was another where Jones should take some blame for preparation. For all the praise Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks received for an amazing throw, how in the world did Tennessee let a Gators wideout get behind them at that point in the game?
It's hard to look at Jones' four-plus years with the program and even find one victory of major significance. Tennessee only owns two wins over that span against teams that were ranked in the top 15, and those came against South Carolina back in 2013, and a bowl win over Northwestern in 2015. Jones is 0-11 against top-10 teams with the Volunteers and has never even earned a trip to the SEC title game.
Jones is also a measly 14-19 in conference play and has been outscored 147-54 in four losses to Alabama. If Tennessee was hoping Jones would bring the program back to national prominence, they have been sorely disappointed.
It's not that Jones is doing a terrible job, but it isn't good enough at a place like Tennessee. Unless expectations have changed, the Volunteers should eyeing playoff spots and not settling for an appearance in the Music City Bowl. If Jones hasn't proven he can turn the school into a national title contender again after four-plus years, it's never going to happen.
It's time to move on.
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