Analysts have declared his position the hottest seat in the country. His program’s fans are demanding his dismissal. His team is coming off its worst home loss in more than 100 years.
In other words, Tennessee football head coach Butch Jones pretty much has to beat South Carolina this Saturday.
ESPN, CBS Sports and The Ringer have all declared Jones, whose Volunteers lost two weeks ago to Georgia 41-0, right on the verge of being fired. And it’s easy to see why. On social media, fans have made no effort to keep their displeasure with Jones hidden.
Jones has certainly not made things easy on himself. Not only did his team lose in heartbreaking fashion to Florida and get steamrolled by Georgia, he’s made odd comments before, saying his players have “won the biggest championship — that's the championship of life” and most recently explaining that some student-athletes don’t get physical reps in practice but do get “leadership reps.”
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However, firing Jones would be a costly proposition for Tennessee, according to the Knoxville News-Sentinel. Because he is under contract until the 2021 season, firing him now would result in a contract buyout of nearly $8.5 million. Getting rid of his assistant coaches would bring the total cost to just under $14 million.
But given the level of fans’ fury against him, Jones likely needs at the very least a respectable performance against the Gamecocks this week to avoid being fired right away.