"Managing Expectations" Sounds Way Better Than "Oh No! We Suck Again!"
First, a few things you may or may not have realized about the current state of Tennessee football.
- No member of the 2014 UT football team will have ever played in a bowl game during his time in Knoxville.
- Tennessee is, at least according to Butch Jones, the only major conference team in America which returns no starters on either the offensive or defensive lines.
- If you commit to Tennessee you have to live in Knoxville.
- If Butch Jones is still employed by the Big 'Urnge after next season, it will be the first time a UT coach has returned for his fourth season on the sidelines since 1995 (Fun with statistics: a required course for those majoring in the Blog Sciences).
Butch Jones did today exactly what you'd expect from a guy who's lost every scrap of experience up front in a league where experience up front correlates closely with success, who hasn't named a starting quarterback yet, and whose 85 man roster will be 50% brand new in 2014: he talked about how excited he was, and all the opportunity there is in Knoxville, and, obliquely, pointed out that the crap show we are likely to witness in 2014 isn't really his fault.
Tennessee returns only 40 players off a roster that went 5-7 last season. Georgia went through what could only be described as a two hour long Biblical smiting in Knoxville and still beat them. To be clear, Tennessee was bad last year, and most of what wasn't bad is now gone. Butch Jones however is. . .excited. He says all the new guys have brought "a lot of positive energy." And that the Vols have had "an influx of young talent." When asked about the Alabama/Tennessee game, one of the rivalry games which helped keep the conference slate at 8 games and usher in a new round of fruit basket turnover in scheduling, Jones declared "we have to get back to making these rivalry games relevant again."
Commentators often talk about how much improvement college football teams make in year two under a new regime. Tennessee isn't headed for that. The guys who should be getting the hang of the new system this year will all be in places other than Neyland Stadium when things kick off. Tennessee is young and inexperienced all over, and in a couple of years after taking their lumps some of the talented players Jones brought in as part of 2014's 593 man recruiting class will be up to the challenge of SEC football. But that's a long way away.
Tale of the Twitter.
Snarky things said about Butch Jones and his charges today as he slathered lipstick all over the pig that pays his salary:
Your Tennessee Vols RT @Vol_Football: Jones: Utah State will be a great challenge. They are used to winning.— Brandon Larrabee (@TeamSpeedKills) July 15, 2014
Fun Fact: Butch Jones writes Perfect Strangers fan fic.— Brother Rick (@RickMuscles) July 15, 2014
#Vols' AJ Johnson said he and roommate/BFF Curt Maggitt play tag. "I mean, like, tag. Like, you have five seconds to tag somebody back."— Wes Rucker (@wesrucker247) July 15, 2014
Until later . . .