Where would you rank Butch Jones versus his peers?
CBS sports ranked Butch Jones as the 52nd best coach in college football.
Fair? Too harsh? Too high? Members of Tennessee’s fan base made the case for all three.
My initial reaction to the ranking was none of the above. The biggest takeaway from the rankings is what it means on a larger scale. The Tennessee name still carries weight, and people removed from the inner circle of Knoxville believe that the Vols underachieved.
Nationally, people believe that four years is enough time to erase the sins of the past. Eight wins should be the minimum at Tennessee, not the culmination of years of top-level recruiting classes. Any competent college football coach should win eight regular season games at Tennessee.
How else do you explain ranking Butch Jones at number 52? They aren’t jaded fans that walked away from a hype-filled season dejected. They aren’t local media catering to a side of the fanbase or fulfilling sponsorship duty by toeing a company line.
They simply think that 51 other coaches at power five schools could have led Tennessee to eight wins with the amount of talent the Vols had in 2016. No, it’s not too much to ask. And hell no you shouldn’t be content with it.
As far as the ranking goes, I’m not exactly sure where I would rank Butch Jones. However, these are the coaches that I think we all can agree that are better:
Saban, Urban, Dabo, Jimbo
Four champions. The best of the best. Does Jimbo belong in this first class? Maybe, maybe not, but I do love saying Dabo and Jimbo back-to-back.
The Really, Really Good
Harbaugh, Bob Stoops, Chris Petersen, David Shaw, Mike Gundy, Dantonio, Petrino, James Franklin, Dan Mullen
All of these coaches either win big or exceed the limitations of their program every year. It may hurt to admit James Franklin is in this category, but sometimes the truth hurts. If you’re a Tennessee fan needing a pick-me-up, I do think two guys on this list would entertain an offer if John Currie ever came calling with a job offer.
Gundy and Mullen. Both would be home runs and both would be awesome in Knoxville.
Good Christian Man Mark Richt, Gary Patterson, Old Man Bill Snyder, Kyle Whittingham, Malzahn, Tom Herman, Mike MacIntyre, Jim McElwain, Paul Johnson
Mark Richt bounced back nicely last year in Miami and currently has the number 1 recruiting class in the country. MacIntyre is similar to Butch, they both inherited messes. However, Mac won 10 games and the division in his year four before losing his quarterback in the Pac 12 championship, in case you were about to pull the injury card.
McElwain lost the battle to Jones in September, but won the war in late November. He’s beaten Jones twice for the SEC East crown and is most likely smart enough to go for two if up by twelve points in the fourth quarter
Eh, are these guys really better than Butch? OK, fine whatever.
Fedora, Bielema, Fuente, Mike Leach, Muschamp, PJ Fleck, Brian Kelly
Tennessee beat Fuente head-to-head, but I don’t think many Tennessee fans would use Dooley beating Butch head-to-head in 2012 as a reason to say that Dooley is better than Butch, right? The Battle of Bristol had the same feeling in terms of the talent discrepancy.
Thirty coaches are better than Butch Jones.
Even if you’re a Butch Jones believer, you’re really only yelling about four coaches: Fleck, Fuente, Kelly and MacIntyre. Fleck is new, Fuente lost to Butch, Kelly went 4-8 and MacIntyre has only had one good season at Colorado.
So, best case scenario even to the biggest Butch Jones fans, Tennessee currently has the 26th best coach in the country. Figures were released earlier this week that revealed that the Volunteer football program was second in the country in revenue generated, first in the SEC.
The second most money with a coach that falls somewhere between 26-52nd best?
Something has to give.
*I have no clue what to do with Cutcliffe and Pat Fitzgerald. I think they’re brilliant scheme coaches, but they’ve never shown that they can recruit. Same as Clay Helton at USC. He was great last year. Hugh Freeze is a better football coach but Ole Miss is on the verge of dying*