Has Tennessee AD John Currie seen enough to fire Vols coach Butch Jones now?
COLUMBIA, Mo. — At the risk of repeating myself, how much more of this does Tennessee athletic director John Currie have to see to announce Butch Jones has coached his last game at UT?
Does the entire defense have to crawl into a fetal position before an opponent snaps the ball? Does an offensive player have to carry the football into the wrong end zone?
Butch’s bricks continued to crumble Saturday evening at Faurot Field. The same coach who once vowed to rebuild the Tennessee football program brick by brick is now only one loss away from leaving the program where he found it five years ago, stumbling along at 5-7 near the bottom of the SEC.
Tennessee’s 50-17 loss to Missouri dropped it to 4-6 overall with two games remaining and extended its conference losing streak to seven games, including six this season.
However, this wasn’t a top-five team like Alabama or Georgia knocking the Vols around. This was 5-5 Missouri, which not that long ago first came to mind when anyone asked, “Who’s the worst team in the SEC?”
Tennessee and Vanderbilt can answer that question in a couple of weeks. But few teams in UT history have looked as inept against a non-winning team as the Vols did against Missouri.
How bad was it?
It was so bad that Currie should have taken to Twitter as a diversionary tactic. Something like: “We’re pleased to announce plans for a new addition to the athletic department complex.”
Or he could have tweeted congratulations to UT’s soccer team, which defeated Murray State in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday night.
Anything to draw attention from a football program that is two defeats away from becoming the first eight-loss team in Tennessee history.
It’s worth noting that UT didn’t come apart on first contact against Missouri, which had become an 11-point favorite by kickoff. In fact, the Vols should have felt pretty good about themselves with 1:15 left in the first half.
Freshman quarterback Will McBride, making his first college start in place of injured Jarrett Guarantano, had just pulled the Vols even at 17-all with a third-down touchdown pass to tight end Ethan Wolf.
But good feelings have been fleeting for this Tennessee team. And they vanished even quicker than usual against the Tigers.
UT’s defense made sure of that.
Missouri running back Larry Rountree appeared headed for a nice gain when he burst through another opening in the Tennessee defensive front. A nice gain turned into a 64-yard run when safety Micah Abernathy approached at a bad angle and spent the rest of the play chasing Missouri's freshman running back.
Rountree scored two plays later from the 1-yard line as the Tigers seized the lead and the momentum. The game was never the same.
Missouri opened the second half the way they ended the first one with a long, fast scoring drive that looked ridiculously easy against UT’s flimsy defense. Later, the Vols made matters worse with a flurry of turnovers.
But as bad as it was, it could have been worse. The Tigers took a knee at UT's 8-yard line on the last play.
Currie should take the hint and put a merciful end to the Butch Jones Era.
John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or email@example.com. Follow him at: Twitter.com/johnadamskns.