It may no longer be a question of whether Butch Jones survives the season. Instead, you have to wonder if he’ll survive this game.
In a season rife with disappointments and failures, Jones’ Tennessee Volunteers gave those calling for the head coach to be fired additional ammunition as UT coughed up a 9-3 halftime lead in falling to South Carolina 15-9. In Knoxville’s Neyland Stadium no less.
The Vols actually had a chance for the go-ahead touchdown late, with six plays from inside the USC 20-yard line with under 30 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, including four from the five or closer. However, three incompletions, including one with no time remaining, sealed the home team’s fate.
Perhaps most distressing for the Vols is how they were physically pushed around up front on defense as the Gamecocks ran for 194 yards on 40 carries.
Despite back-to-back nine-win seasons, Jones entered the 2017 season squarely on the hot seat in the eyes of many observers. Through six games, he’s done nothing to squelch the speculation; in fact, the last four games have merely added to it.
In Week 3, they stole defeat from the jaws of victory in a rivalry loss to Florida. A week later at home, they barely (17-13) got past a UMass team that enters this weekend winless. The following week, they were embarrassed and humiliated in a 41-0 woodshedding by Georgia.
Now, with this loss coming off a bye weekend, UT falls to 3-3 on the season, including a 0-3 record in SEC play. Adding to that misery? Up next is a trip to Tuscaloosa for a matchup with top-ranked Alabama.
Barring a complete turnaround that’s seemingly nowhere in sight, it’s almost impossible to see how Jones makes it to 2018 as the Vols head coach.