Ranking in at No. 52 in this year’s CBS head coach rankings is a solid fall for Tennessee head coach Butch Jones, as he was ranked at No. 33 heading into last season. Although the drop may seem unfair given the injuries the Tennessee team faced last fall, it is not too far off track.
This article only gave coaches numbers 65-25. Breaking it down in a simple manner may help out a little. In the list released yesterday, there were 10 SEC coaches and Jones ranked sixth among those. The SEC coaches that were ranked above him were shoe-ins: Bret Bielema, Hugh Freeze, Will Muschamp, Kevin Sumlin and Ed Orgeron. Saying that Jones ranks in at No. 8 among all SEC coaches is by no means degrading. Also, the fact that he is even one spot above Derek Mason at Vanderbilt is arguable considering the Vols loss to him last season.
Some may think that the coaches that are ahead of Jones are head-scratchers, but it all boils down to what he has accomplished.
So what exactly has he accomplished? Yes, Jones has certainly improved in the win totals column since his first year in 2013 and has taken the Vols to three straight bowl wins. However, try to find a Tennessee fan that was not disappointed with Tennessee’s 9-4 finish in the 2016 season. The Volunteers started a hot 5-0 and managed to close out the season 4-4 with losses to South Carolina off a bye week and Vanderbilt in the final game of the season.
So why exactly are Tennessee fans and media shocked by the ranking that CBS gave Butch Jones? Regardless of injuries the expectations were sky high and Jones fell miserably short. People that wanted to see Jones higher on the list, exactly where do you want him to fall? He certainly should not be ahead of Ed Orgeron at No. 48 after cleaning up the mess at LSU and finishing 8-4 last season.
I do agree that Jones should top the three head coaches above him. Dino Babers of Syracuse (No. 51) went 4-8 in his first season and is known for his offense, which scored two points less per game than the previous year. Steven Addazio at Boston College (No. 50) seems to have peaked at the 7-win mark, which gives him a 24-27 record at BC, and Jim Mora of UCLA (No. 49) had two 10-win seasons as the Bruins head coach in 2013 and 2014 but has won 12 games since. The absolute best Jones should have finished is somewhere in the high 40’s behind Orgeron.
By no means is he doing a bad job as Tennessee’s head coach. Jones has brought the Tennessee program back to relevancy. However, everyone needs to stop acting like Jones is any better of a coach than shown on this list. He has yet to reach his expectations and has failed to win an SEC East title in one of the division’s worst stretches in recent memory.
So yes, Butch Jones’ ranking in the CBS poll was a tad harsh, but it’s exactly what should be expected after his rough season and failed expectations last year.
Edited by David Bradford
Featured image by Ben Proffitt