John Currie is officially on the job as Tennessee’s athletics director, which means it’s time for him to be on the hook for questions about his football program.
The Vols are in a state of crisis after a disappointing 2016 campaign. Despite being picked to win the SEC East and snapping an 11-game losing streak to Florida, the Volunteers fumbled the division away to the Gators, pushing Big Orange’s run of seasons not ending in Atlanta to nine straight years.
Jones is 30-21 after four seasons in Knoxville, rising from a 5-7 debut to 7-6 in 2014, to 9-4 in ’15 to 9-4 again last season. Tennessee’s SEC record fell from 5-3 to 4-4 from ’15 to ’16.
Despite that, Currie said in an interview with the Memphis Commercial Appeal that he likes what he’s seen from Butch Jones from afar.
From the paper:
Q: What’s your thought about where Tennessee football is right now?
A: I’m excited to get to know Coach Jones. I know Friday was Pro Day on campus and people are talking about how many NFL scouts and coaches and general managers are at Tennessee. And a number of folks have remarked to me in the last 24 hours that four or five years ago there weren’t so many. So clearly Coach Jones has done a great job of getting the program going in the right direction and I’m excited to continue to get to know him better and find out how I can support him more.
Q: What are reasonable expectations for football at Tennessee?
A: The expectations are defined by the history. Tennessee is a championship-level program and that’s where you want to get to. But one of the things I’ve learned from Coach Snyder at K-State is what you have to focus on, and that is, are we getting better today than we were yesterday? If you get away from that principal and think about where you want to get to eventually, you’re doing it wrong. We’ve got to focus on where we are today, and will we be better tomorrow, and continue to build through that process. We all know how competitive the conference is, and how competitive college football is. Who would think that Kansas State University would have the best facilities in the Big 12 conference, better than Texas? Kansas State does. The reality of it is, as universities have been able to generate more revenue, everybody has been able to build good facilities, everybody has been able to provide great academic support, and as all those things have happened around the country in all the leagues, it becomes even more competitive. I think Coach Jones is on the right trajectory.
And, yes, you can absolutely fire this under the “what is he supposed to say?” cabinet. But, still, it’s worth filing anyway.