Aside from being on the right side of the won-loss ledger, this is absolutely not what Butch Jones or the Tennessee Volunteers needed.
The come-from-ahead last-second loss to Florida in Week 4 set a sizable chunk of Vols Nation to grumbling about the current state of the football program in general and Jones’head-coaching tenure specifically. With winless UMass coming to Neyland Stadium in Week 4, it was viewed as an opportunity for UT to reset and get back on track for games against No. 11 Georgia and No. 1 Alabama the next three weeks.
The good news? They won their third game of the year against the one loss, claiming a 17-13 victory. The bad? The looked rough, ragged and utterly inept, especially on offense, in doing so.
For the game, the Vols totaled 297 yards of offense 62 plays. In the second half, they ran 31 plays and put up just 64 yards — and 26 of those came on their last drive of the game that didn’t involve a kneel-down. Their eight possessions went punt, field goal, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, end of game.
So, how did the fans who showed up at Neyland Stadium express their frustration over the current state of the football program? By morphing into empty seats, apparently.
Armed with a mediocre 30-21 record — and 14-19 mark in SEC play — Jones entered the 2017 season on the coaching hot seat. These last two weeks have done nothing to quiet such talk; in fact, it’s done nothing but ratchets up the calls for his coaching head on a platter.
Should Tennessee stumble against Georgia and Alabama in the coming weeks, all bets are off as to whether Jones will see a sixth season in Knoxville.
Alabama is No. 1 in just about every college football poll… except one.
That would be the Wall Street Journal’s annual ranking of college football programs. While you might think that the paper gives Clemson the edge instead, you have to know that they are not examining teams’ performance on the field in 2017, but rather their overall evaluation. Much like Forbes does in ranking NFL franchise values, WSJ attempted to find out how much college football programs were worth and came to the conclusion that Ohio State reigns supreme in the sport with a nearly $1.5 billion sticker price.
The Buckeyes’ value shot up nearly 60% in just a year so you can thank a College Football Playoff appearance and that huge new Big Ten television package for boosting their bottom line. The WSJ came to the conclusion by citing a study performed by Ryan Brewer, an associate professor of finance at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus.
Not far behind Ohio State and still in the billion dollar club were Big 12 rivals Texas and Oklahoma. The Longhorns were an annual mainstay atop estimates like this for years but the team’s recent malaise on the field seems to have held them back lately. While the SEC did not have a team crack the 10 figure mark (shockingly), the league did make up half of the top 10. All said, the most valuable conference in college football averaged nearly $523 million per team overall.
Here’s the overall top 10 teams and how much they’re worth per the report:
- Ohio State – $1,510,482,000
- Texas – $1,243,124,000
- Oklahoma – $1,001,967,00
- Alabama $930,001,000
- Louisiana State – $910,927,000
- Michigan – $892,951,000
- Notre Dame – $856,938,000
- Georgia – $822,310,000
- Tennessee – $745,640,00
- Auburn – $724,191,000
In the end, there could be an injury silver lining for Tennessee after all.
In the aftermath of the deflating last-second loss to rival Florida, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones announced that Cortez McDowell would miss the remainder of the 2017 season. The linebacker sustained an injury to his wrist that, at the time, was deemed serious enough to shelve him for the rest of the year.
The key here is “at the time” as, a couple of days later, the prognosis has brightened slightly as Jones allowed Wednesday that McDowell could return at some point this season. Whether it’s late in the regular season or even for a bowl game, the coach at least left the door open for the senior to play again in 2017.
Obviously, any availability would be determined in the coming weeks by the program’s medical staff.
McDowell would be eligible for a medical hardship waiver if he shut it down for the remainder of the season, which would give the fourth-year senior another year of eligibility to use in 2018. At least at this point in time, that’s not the tack that either the player or the football program is taking.
After starting four of 12 games last season, McDowell started the first three games this season prior to his injury.
The SEC released its 2018 slate on Tuesday, beginning the weekend of Sept. 1 and running through the SEC Championship on Saturday, Dec. 1. It would be entirely pointless to break down winners and losers of the ’18 slate considering we don’t really even know who’s good yet in 2017 — other than Alabama — and we especially don’t know who will be good in ’18 — other than ‘Bama, of course.
But we can point out some dates that look interesting as we sit here on Tuesday, Sept. 19, the year of our Lord 2017. And, no, intra-divisional games don’t count, since they are played every year.
- Auburn vs. Washington — Sept. 1 (at Atlanta)
- Alabama vs. Louisville — Sept. 1 (at Orlando)
- LSU vs. Miami — Sept. 1 (at Dallas)
- Tennessee vs. West Virginia (at Charlotte)
- Clemson at Texas A&M — Sept. 8
- Vanderbilt at Notre Dame — Sept. 15
- Florida at Mississippi State — Sept. 29
- Tennessee at Auburn — Oct. 13
Consult the full schedule here.
A pair of wrist injuries will cost two Tennessee players the rest of their respective seasons.
Wide receiver Juaun Jennings and linebacker Cortez McDowell will miss the rest of the season, head coach Butch Jones announced Monday.
Jennings left Tennessee’s Labor Day victory over Georgia Tech in the second quarter after absorbing as he collected a catch over the middle, his third of the game. Jennings did not return to the game and will not for the rest of the season, forcing the 2-1 Volunteers to move forward without their top returning pass-catcher.
Additionally, McDowell was lost during the Vols loss to Florida on Saturday.
The McDowell injury is particularly brutal for Tennessee because it leaves Big Orange without all three of its protected starters at linebacker. Middle linebacker Darrin Kirkland, Jr., has already undergone season-ending surgery, and strongside linebacker Austin Smith injured his knee during the final week of fall camp.
On top of that, safety Todd Kelly, Jr., did not make the trip to Gainesville and could be lost for the season. Kick returner Evan Berry did not play against Florida either.
Oh, and Tennessee lost to Florida on a Hail Mary after having a first-and-goal inside the final minute.
Other than that, though, everything’s going great in Knoxville.