KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – For the past few weeks, all I keep reading on my Twitter timeline is how upset Vols fans are that athletic director John Currie not only hasn’t fired Butch Jones but that he also has stayed silent on the topic.
Heck, go to @John_ Currie and look at the comments after any of his postings. There is a general theme, and that theme is not a positive one in terms of the direction of the football program. It doesn’t matter if Currie is tweeting about Lady Vols soccer; the fans are giving him an earful about Jones.
The voices got loud after the Florida loss, louder after barely beating an awful UMass team and louder still following the historic shutout loss to Georgia. And the moment Jarrett Guarantano’s pass fell incomplete at the end of Saturday’s loss to South Carolina, social media was a firestorm.
Look, the writing is on the wall. Barring something unforeseen, Butch Jones will not be the coach in 2018.
But fans want him out as soon as possible, so that Currie can start to woo Chip Kelly, or Bob Stoops, or Bobby Petrino, or (gasp) Jon Gruden. They say that every minute that Jones still is the coach is a minute that another program that could be in the market for a coach gets a lead in its search. Tennessee could be competing with the likes of UCLA, Nebraska, Arkansas and Ole Miss for their next coach, so time is of the essence.
But I’ll say this to those stressed Tennessee fans (in Aaron Rodgers’ voice …): R-E-L-A-X.
Just because Currie hasn’t had a news conference doesn’t mean that he’s sitting in his office playing Candy Crush while Knoxville burns.
Currie is as much a “Tennessee guy” as anyone who has been around the athletic program in a while. He got his Master’s degree at Tennessee, and spent a decade on the UT campus in a variety of roles before becoming AD at Kansas State in 2009.
He’s already made himself available to Vols fans more in the past six months than predecessor Dave Hart did in six years. Believe me when I tell you Currie is well-aware of the current fan angst. Hart didn’t care or he didn’t care to know. Period.
In addition, Currie is not going to be blindsided like his former boss, Mike Hamilton, was in 2010 when Lane Kiffin abruptly left three weeks before National Signing Day. For all of Hamilton’s talk about having a short list of names at all times, three days of panic led to the hiring of Derek Dooley, one of the worst coaches in SEC history.
Currie obviously hasn’t met publicly with any coach whose name you want to throw at the wall right now – but that doesn’t mean that inquiries aren’t being made at some level.
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