Butch Jones Smokes a Cigar. Who Cares?

Marky Billson, host of Tri-Cities Sports NOW

It’s time to let Butch Jones go.

After being photographed smoking the traditional victory cigar the winners of the Alabama-Tennessee football game do, or being doused with Gatorade in the final stages of the Crimson Tide’s 58–21 victory, several members of the media took to criticizing the Vols’ former coach.

Current Alabama analyst Butch Jones celebrates the Crimson Tide’s 58–21 victory with Chris Owens

“An all time low for Butch Jones,” Clay Travis tweeted. “I hope he never gets another head job.”

Travis means head coaching job. I think. I’ve read some of Travis’ writing before.

Mark Nagi tweeted “Butch Jones knew exactly what he was doing. Allowing that picture of him smoking a cigar in visitors locker room shows an extreme lack of class. Tennessee is still paying him MILLIONS because he failed here.”

Nagi spent the offseason writing how wonderful Phil Fulmer is in a fan boy book, Decade of Dysfunction.

But that’s the thing. Why would you care Jones is being paid millions by Tennessee to beat them if you weren’t a fan boy writer?

There’s a school of thought that Jones is celebrating beating a team he created. But

Keller Chryst never played for Jones, and he played the majority of the game at quarterback for the Vols.

Jones played running back Ty Chandler ahead of Tim Jordan last season. New head coach Jeremy Pruitt plays Jordan ahead of Chandler, feeding him the ball 14 times last Saturday compared to Jordan’s nine. When they needed spelled, it was with Madre London, a grad transfer from Michigan State.

Four Tennessee starters against Alabama never played for Jones. Only five ever played for him beyond a freshman season.

Besides, if there ever was a recruit who was “Butch’s Boy,” it’s Jarrett Guarantano.

Think Guarantano comes to Tennessee from New Jersey if it isn’t for Jones? His father was a leading receiver at Rutgers during Jones’ days as an assistant there.

So why, then, is Guarantano considered to be an untouchable starting quarterback and the quarterback to lead the Vols to the promised land in the following two seasons? Wouldn’t he be the leader of the despised former coach’s presumed less-than-productive recruits?

Not even Burger King lets you have it BOTH ways.

I’m not defending Butch Jones. I refer to him as “the coach who can’t count to 14.” Allegedly playing Brent Kendrick with a concussion last year is inexcusable. So was asking “what do we want from our media” last year during a press conference.

Uh, Butch, you’re a football coach, not an editor. You don’t get to decide that.

But I do agree with The Tennessean’s Joe Rexrode, perhaps the state’s best sports columnist, when he wrote of Jones on twitter: “He celebrated with the team he works for now. He went and found some of his former UT players after the game. The Bama players basically treated him as a lovable mascot they like to pick on. Whatever. Move on.”

Don’t think Alabama didn’t know how Tennesseans thought of Jones when they started rubbing it in. I don’t know how Jones was supposed to avoid a Gatorade bath and frankly who is going to turn down a few locker room selfies with his team after a victory?

Frankly, after 12 straight victories against the Vols, Tennessee fans should be happy Alabama still considers the Big Orange enough of an equal to celebrate like this against them.

It’s time for Vols fans to let Jones go. He’s only one of five head football coaches who couldn’t deliver an SEC Championship to Knoxville for the last 20 years, including the current athletic director.

This is as good as it has been for Tennessee football since 2007.

Jones is the only coach the last 10 years to win nine games in a season at Tennessee, and anyone who believes Tennessee is a turn key program destined for annual 10 victory seasons needs to examine the current landscape of college football.

Yes, Tennessee has a passionate fan base and lots of money. But with the SEC Network every football program in the conference makes money. The advantages the Vols once had in facilities aren’t there anymore. Even Vanderbilt has an indoor practice facility now.

Throw in the fact Tennessee is not one of the leading states in producing NFL talent, and it isn’t practical to think the Vols can be the program they once were 20 years ago with the current system of college football.

One fan on social media suggested taunting Jones with “It’s All Your Fault! It’s All Your Fault!” once he arrived.

The failures of his predecessors and, for that matter, the 3–4 record of his successor indicate many of Tennessee’s struggles in recent times are not Jones fault. In fact, their greatest recent successes have come with him as coach.

Jones’ propaganda lines; “five star hearts, champions of life,” were difficult to swallow because they came after losses. There’s really very little difference between those quotes and the Tennessee public relations brass releasing stories like “Vols Have Good Time in Church.” It’s just the Jeremy Pruitt era is in his honeymoon period.

Want to have a clean break from Jones? Give the media full access, like in the National Football League. Not only will the Vols get more exposure, but it will send the message to players they can be a star at Tennessee but just a number at rival schools.

Oh, and start Keller Chryst at quarterback.

Marky Billson hosts Tri-Cities Sports NOW 12–2 p.m. ET weekdays on 1420 NBC Sports Radio Tri-Cities. Watch him live and archived here and here.