The Tennessee Volunteers went 10-4 in 2007 before during several down years.
How down, you ask? Very down. The Vols finished with a losing record in five of their next six seasons, including four straight from 2010-13.
Butch Jones, however, has turned the program around. He went 7-6 in 2014, 9-4 in 2015 and has No. 19 Tennessee sitting at 5-2 in 2016. Finally, Vols fans are starting to believe again.
“It’s been a long wait,” Tennessee play-by-play voice Bob Kesling said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “The Tennessee fans went through a lot with the coaching change with Phillip Fulmer and Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley. As you know, anytime you change coaches in a program, it’ll set you back a year or two. Then when you do it three in a row in rapid order, it’s really tough on a program. You lose players, you got to start a whole new recruiting base, you got different coaches and it’s just really tough. It really set this program back for a long, long way. And I think now finally Butch Jones has done a terrific job of rebuilding it. He’s done a terrific job of stocking the roster. When he came here, they basically had four offensive linemen in the whole program. So that tells you the rebuilding job he’s done. Now this long wait for Tennessee fans is finally starting to pay some dividends.”
Several SEC-East teams, including Florida (Jim McElwain), Georgia (Kirby Smart) and South Carolina (Will Muschamp), have hired new coaches in recent years.
“When you’ve got a new coach, it really rattles your program a little bit, and I think the Tennessee folks know that more than anybody because of all the changes we’ve had here,” Kesling said. “So I think both Florida and Georgia think they’ve got the guy, and even South Carolina thinks they’ve got the right guy, and that was the whole key for Tennessee – to finally get the right guy at the right time. Butch Jones has turned out to be really a great fit here at Tennessee, and I think people are thrilled with what he’s done and now they’re questioning can he keep it going. I think people at Tennessee firmly believe that Butch is the guy for the job.”
The Vols, who lost back-to-back games at Texas A&M and against Alabama, have a bye this week. They play at South Carolina (2-4) on Oct. 29.