Butch Jones: 6-6 isn’t acceptable at Tennessee long-term
Tennessee coach Butch Jones realized the expectations he faced in his second season. Coming off a 5-7 finish in 2013, Jones needed to provide credibility to his “brick by brick” rebuilding process with — at least — a one win improvement.
The Vols were successful, finishing 6-6 (3-5 SEC) and earning their first bowl game appearance since 2010. But Jones will be the first to tell you that this is not the long-term plan for Tennessee.
“That’s one of the great benefits about being in a bowl game is it’s getting back to the standards and expectations of Tennessee football,” Jones said. “Tennessee football is not supposed to be home for the holidays.”
Tennessee is the second-winningest program in SEC history behind Alabama. Like the Tide prior to Nick Saban’s hire, the Vols have gone through an uncharacteristic stretch of losing during the past decade.
Jones faces a similar task in rebuilding a once dominant program. Thus far, the coach has made excellent strides in recruiting top-5 classes and motivating players on and off the field.
We’ve seen a different swagger from Tennessee in the past two seasons, with players running back to the sidelines between quarters as a cohesive unit. Jones’ teams have fought against superior competition, rather than accept blowouts after large halftime deficits, similar to teams under the previous coaching staff.
Tennessee’s TaxSlayer Bowl appearance is a step in the right direction, but its still a far cry from where the program should be in the future. Jones is building a winner in Knoxville and Vols fans will not be content with a 6-6 record moving forward.
Tennessee’s season is a short-term success and a building block for what should be a bright future. The expectations will start to grow after this season and, with more experience and depth, the Vols should live up to the hype.
Should Jones continue his success on the recruiting trail and keep his players motivated, Tennessee will not only surpass its win total from 2014, but become a powerhouse in the SEC.