Thursday, December 6, 2012

0 Butch Jones to UT is good

By Kenny Howell

Butch Jones has started popping up now as Tennessee's next, top candidate for the head coaching job, and so, of course, the fire Butch Jones chants have already started.

But, I think people are just dismissing him because they don't know much about him, or they are expecting that Gruden may still be walking in the door any minute. I mean his plane has been scheduled to touch down in Knoxville every day for the past month, so it has to happen some time right?

Jones is a good coach, plain and simple. Wherever he has been, teams have won. As Central Michigan's head coach, they went to the MAC title game every year, and won it twice. He went on to Cincinnati, where they had a disappointing season to start, only going 4-8, but rebounding the next year with a 10-3 record and a share of the conference championship. In that 4-8 season, they lost to a top 10 Oklahoma team by just two points, and were in most of the games. Just came up short. That turned around in 2011, where, yes, I know, he lost to Derek Dooley, but I would argue that if Defensive Coordinator Justin Wilcox was still around, we would have won a few more this season, and we might not be having this coaching search.

The Bearcats won a share of the Big East title again this season, going 9-3. The only head scratcher on the schedule was a loss to Toledo, but they did beat Virginia Tech, who were admittedly down this season. Toledo did take Arizona to overtime on the Wildcats home field, so they weren't that bad. Probably still should have won that one.

Charlie Strong, who nearly became Tennessee's head coach, is 1-2 against Jones. Jones also is 1-0 against James Franklin, as they came away with the win over Vanderbilt at the Liberty Bowl last season.

A knock on Jones would be his defenses aren't that great, but I think if you get the right defensive coordinator hired, that stuff would fix itself. Cincinnati is 41st in total defense this year, so that isn't that bad.

Another big negative people see in Jones is his recruiting. He has never recruited the south. With Cincinnati, he has recruited anywhere from 49-59 according to Rivals. Anywhere from third to fifth in the conference. If Tennessee can get the right assistants in place, ones with ties to the south, then that will remedy some of it. Plus, winning brings recruits. How in the world is Nick Saban a good recruiter? He has the personality of an armadillo that is being constantly poked with a stick, but he gets top classes every year. A few things - he wins, he has good assistants and he is at a school with a rich history. Tennessee is that as well. Also, I think it is positive to show that he wins with lesser talent, so if Tennessee stays middle of the pack with recruits, they still have a chance to be good.

Do I think that Butch Jones is going to win a national championship at Tennessee? Probably not. But I think he can get them within striking distance. And, even though some people hate to admit it, that is what Tennessee needs right now. They need someone that gets them near the top because, eventually, those guys on top are going to fall. And having a good coach, not just a good recruiter, in place will help knock them down.


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