KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Longtime Volunteer football fans expressed mixed reaction to the firing of yet another another Tennessee football coach, Butch Jones.
“We all knew that it was probably coming,” fan Ann Julius said. “It’s always a little sad for families that are involved in the whole situation. I have been through several of these in my football experience here, and it probably needed to be done, but the less ugliness that can go with it is for the best.”
The termination comes after Vols lost to another SEC rival, Missouri.
“I wasn’t surprised by the decision. It was just a matter of when it would happen,” Josh Ward, radio host for WNML Sports Radio, said. “Not if, but when for a coaching change. With Tennessee losing to Missouri in the way that it did, and not really being competitive for a lot of the game, I think John Curry decided this is the right time to make a move.”
The phones kept ringing at WNML Sports Radio one day after Jones’ firing. Fans expressed relief that the Jones coaching years are over.
“He did the best he could do,” one fan said over the radio. “He was just over his head.”
Fans with the Quarterback Club, a group that meets weekly in Knoxville, said it was the right decision to let Jones go, but former Tennessee tailback Herky Payne said the termination is bittersweet.
“It’s sort of a sad day,” Payne said. “I have not rejoiced about it at all, but we were having problems and obviously not getting the job done, but I’m not rejoiced in Butch losing his job.”
Many fans said they liked Jones as a person and wish him well, but the Tennessee football program needs a coach who will score wins on the field.
“Well I really liked Jones,” Jennings said. “I thought he’s a really nice person, but I think it was time for him to go because he wasn’t getting the job done and he wasn’t winning the big games so it was just time that we made a change.”
And one day after Coach Jones’ firing, fans are already looking ahead to the future.
“My favorite situation was playing for General Neyland,” Payne said. “We played for a great coach in 1951. We need someone on his order.”
“A lot of fans want a big name coach…someone who has won at a high level elsewhere who can come in and do the same at Tennessee,” Ward said.
Former Tennessee Quarterback Eric Ainge said the Vols should pick a coaching staff with a proven record and diverse experience.
“Instead of having four former head coaches on the staff like Butch Jones did, I think we would be better off having multiple guys that had been coordinators and they know what it’s like to game plan and make an in game adjustment,” Ainge said.