Butch Jones

John Currie, Butch Jones, and When to Operate

Last night John Currie broke his silence with an appearance on Big Orange Hotline on the Vol Network. GoVols247 has a complete transcript of his remarks as he answered questions from Bob Kesling (who I thought did a good job asking fairly direct questions to the AD on a university-run program). Or you can listen to it here:

One particular quote I found interesting:

“Again, you’ve got to step back and take kind of a big-picture view of where you are. And you also have to remember, as my father who passed away a couple of years ago, was a surgeon, right? And the surgeon’s creed is, ‘There’s no problem you can’t make worse by operating.’ So with any particular decision … you’ve got make decisions that you truly believe are best for your program.

“I believe that supporting our staff and supporting our players getting ready for the Southern Miss game is the best thing I can do for our football program right now.”

The vast majority of Tennessee fans would counter by saying the best thing he could do for the football program is make a coaching change. It has become almost impossible to find anyone – fans, local or national media, anyone – who disagrees.

Do we really think John Currie disagrees?

Those who were confused and/or upset by Currie’s silence probably aren’t feeling better by him breaking it this way. I thought the overall theme of his remarks last night was, “Support the players.” But I didn’t interpret anything in this interview to make me believe Currie’s support of Butch Jones this week will extend into next year.

At this point, there’s no need to make the argument for a coaching change. The context clues more than suggest Butch Jones is not going to be Tennessee’s coach in 2018. This, from all sides, is the decision that seems to be best for Tennessee’s football program. It may very well be the decision that is best for Butch Jones.

John Currie’s mission statement is, “Will it help us win?” There is sufficient evidence to believe the status quo will not help us win in the future. Will it help us win this Saturday? Is it what’s best for the program this week? When is the very best time to make things official?

I don’t know the answer to that. None of us do for sure.

We can all agree on the if, while disagreeing on the when. The new early signing period alone makes this uncharted territory for all of us, including John Currie.

Tennessee needs a transplant, and it may be as simple as the man holding the scalpel believes it’s best not to operate until you have a donor lined up. The if is far more important than the when as long as the when is before next season, and neither appear to be in doubt.

This season is already dead in terms of success, but keeping bowl eligibility alive isn’t irrelevant. We’ve long argued it is in Tennessee’s best interests for a team in desperate need of growth, and it’s also in Butch Jones’ best interests even if he’s on another sideline next year:  you want to be the guy who left Tennessee at 6-6, not 4-8. It can be in everyone’s best interests for Butch to still be on the sidelines the next few weeks while it is also in everyone’s best interests for him not to be on the sideline next year.

Far more important than when is who’s next. This time the Vols should have far more attractive options lined up, and not just one that owns property in Jefferson County. That process might have to officially wait until Jones is no longer Tennessee’s coach, but is no doubt unofficially underway.

Currie’s silence, both actual and when speaking, leaves himself open to the perception that Butch can still be saved. But there is little to suggest that perception represents reality. Consider the purpose behind boycotting the game Saturday and/or encouraging others to do the same. If it’s because you want Butch Jones gone, it seems to me that’s already coming. If it’s because you just want Butch Jones gone this week, none of us knows if that’s the very best course of action for Tennessee, for the rest of the season or in the search. If you want closure, I think most of us have lived long enough to realize you’re better off not waiting for the other party to get it.

You are of course entitled to your opinion and your pleasure with your tickets. But I still find no compelling reason to root against this team on Saturday, or to boycott; such a thing tends to end up doing more harm than good.

We all want to win. It’s not going to happen this year. But just because something doesn’t happen this week doesn’t mean something isn’t happening for next year. I don’t know what will help us win this week. I am hopeful we are serving the best interests of what will help us win long-term. That’s John Currie’s job. And that’s our job.

Go Vols.


Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
1 Comment threads
2 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
3 Comment authors
Andrew CooperJoel HollingsworthAdam Spangler Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Louisville Vol
Louisville Vol

The longer this goes on the clearer it is that Currie is either waiting until he has a replacement, or until Butch has a landing spot. And honestly, he deserves it. As frustrating as it’s been at times, he’s leaving the program better than he found it. That’s worth our gratitude. Plus, Currie was around when Fulmer got the axe, and the handling of that was a PR nightmare I’m sure he doesn’t want to repeat. I saw a report tonight indicating that Sexton (Butch’s agent) has been shopping him around. This all makes sense. Spare Butch the humiliation, thank… Read more »

Joel Hollingsworth

Agreed on all of that.

Andrew Cooper
Andrew Cooper

I agree completely. I get why Butch is being fired but handling it like we did Fulmer would be a mistake. Seriously, do we want to send the message to potential coaches that you can come here, do your job, and improve the program but if you can’t get us all the way we’re going to treat you like dirt and humiliate you? Big name guys with excellent track records have other options than UT and they’re watching.