A few hours after reports of Butch Jones’ firing swept the Interwebs, Tennessee released an official confirmation on the decision with comments from athletic director John Currie.
A few minutes after that confirmation was shared, Tennessee sent out the newest “Letter From John Currie” which expanded on the decision and detailed some information about the coaching hire process.
Fans scrutinized Currie for remaining mostly silent as the Vols’ struggles dragged on through the season, but I think Currie’s comments so far today show good promise for what’s to come.
Let’s start with the comments on the decision:
“Unfortunately, we are not where we need to be competitively. For that reason, I have asked Coach Jones to step down as head football coach. I know Coach Jones will be successful moving forward, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.” – John Currie
Like a true businessman, Currie got straight to the point. He was delicate with his word choice as to not blast Jones, but made it abundantly clear that he took responsibility in asking Jones to step down given the position of the program.
Again, these are prepared comments, but there’s still something to be said about the comments being good.
In his Letter, Currie added “I know Vol Nation will stick together, rally around this team and support these student-athletes who, despite adversity throughout this season, continue to play with great effort and intensity.”
Much like the message has been for those disgruntled with the program, Currie harped on the continued support of the players, who can’t do much about the coaching change. This was something he had to say, but the way he put it — “despite adversity” — shows that he understand players were fighting an uphill battle on the field. And they were still fighting.
Now to the coaching change stuff.
His quote on finding a new coach is a pretty typical one. He says the program will look for someone “of the highest integrity and character with the skills and vision to return Tennessee football to championship form.”
It’ll be interesting to see if the hire replicates that standard, but Currie is at least publicly saying he expects to search for a coach that will compete for championships in Knoxville.
Currie will hold a 5 p.m. press conference tonight to address the firing and coaching search, but says he “will have no further public comments” until the Vols officially announce a new coach.
Again, this is a carefully planned release, but I liked Currie’s wording when describing the press conference. He seemingly wants to take the main stage and prove to Vol fans that he deserves the spotlight.
The press conference will be streamed live on UTsports.com so that you can follow along and stay up-to-date as it takes place. Complete video and a full transcript of the press conference will be available to view on-demand…” – John Currie
I don’t expect a great deal of breaking news from him at the press conference, but he wants as many Vol fans’ eyes on him as possible. He’s taking ownership now, which should present itself as a step in the right direction for those previously disgruntled fans.
At the end of all of this, Currie’s choice for head coach will decide the fans’ opinion on his handling of the situation. But, at least for now, he’s heading in the right direction.