Forget Butch Jones. Get Rid of John Kelly!

Running back’s arrest is a chance for Jones to show leadership, jump start the team, and do the right thing.

Marky Billson, Host of Tri-Cities Sports NOW

After his arrest for marijuana possession, running back John Kelly should be kicked off the Tennessee football team.

It would be a kick in the pants to jump start the Vols. A way to showcase freshman running back Ty Chandler, who has been the brightest spark for the future all season when he rushed for more than 11 yards a carry in the first half against South Carolina. A way to say “Next Man Up” isn’t just a cliché and, perhaps for the first time, show a “Butchism” actually holds weight.

A way to say “I’m sorry Jarrett, but we need to go to the more developed passer now,” and have a legitimate reason other than demotion to switch back to Quenten Dormady that might keep Jarrett Guarantano in the fold for future seasons.

Last year Jalen Hurd quit the team after being benched in the second half of the South Carolina game for Kelly, as Alvin Kamara was injured. One could make the argument a coach should not treat their stars that way, but it’s hard to criticize the short term results of the move. Hurd was woeful against the Gamecocks in the second half and Kelly rushed for nearly 100 yards in relief.

Hurd looked selfish when he quit the team, but ultimately he was making a statement of wanting to contribute.

Kelly was making a statement of wanting to get high and willing to break the law to do so. What player is more focused on the team?

Unfortunately, there will be more talk of “legalize marijuana” than this realization.

Jones rejected any fear Hurd might have of transferring from Tennessee in benching him. This year, he seems to be keeping an inept quarterback in the fold because of fear of said quarterback transferring.

Make no doubt, Hurd was a better running back than Guarantano is a quarterback.

Cutting ties with Kelly now would be a big step to insure players realize drug use is not acceptable and prevent instances like this from ever happening again.

Jones would also look like a strong leader. If Jones is not long for Tennessee, then he will find with the Drae Bowles situation hanging over him it difficult to get a new job. Cutting, not suspending, Kelly would make the statement criminal behavior off the field is unacceptable.

As of now, Jones does not have that reputation. What statement will be made if Kelly is actually suspended for a longer period of time than defensive end Darrell Taylor, who Jones hinted yesterday may be back against Kentucky after a two game suspension for getting into a fight in practice with Trey Smith?

Fights in practice are a byproduct of the sport. Breaking the law is not.

As for depleting the roster, with Chandler one shouldn’t be concerned. Besides, of the Vols remaining opponents, Kentucky has allowed more than 200 yards rushing in their last two games, Missouri and Vandy don’t even crack the Top 100 run defenses in the country, LSU has allowed more than 150 yards on the ground in all of their SEC games, and though Southern Mississippi is ranked in the Top 20 against the run, that stat is boosted somewhat by shutouts against FCS Southern and winless UTEP.

The point is the Vols can do okay without the player who is responsible for the team’s demise in the last five games when he dropped a sure-fire touchdown pass against Florida that would have won the Vols the game. At 24–20, the Tennessee defense could’ve played against the bomb on the last play of the game rather than a completion over the middle to set up a long field goal.

The Vols can also do away with linebacker Will Ignont. The freshman has only seen garbage time action and is undersized. Besides, even as a freshman, don’t you think if he was any good he’d find a way to crack the lineup of the nation’s 123rd ranked rushing defense?

It’s time to make a stand, Butch. You kicked defensive lineman Danny O’Brien off the team last season for reasons that, though not disclosed, weren’t reported as criminal.

Do the same with Kelly and Ignont.

Marky Billson can be heard from 12–2 p.m. ET on Tri-Cities Sports NOW on 1420 NBC Sports Radio Tri-Cities. Listen to him here.