We've heard a lot lately about the pressure on Tennessee head football coach Butch Jones, about how hot his seat is in Knoxville and how the end is near for his coaching tenure. Yet, Butch is still the head coach and the Big Orange fan base is still seething. There is a movement called, #EmptyNeyland which calls for a boycott of the Vols homecoming game this weekend with Southern Miss. The "movement" is all about hitting the Vols where it hurts; in other words in the bank account. Fans are being encouraged to stay away from Neyland Stadium to show Athletic Director John Currie that Butch should go.
With that movement as well as the growing unfavorable sentiment toward the Vols' football program a lot of that pressure is now moving directly toward John Currie, who just yesterday stated his support for Coach Jones.
Currie has said all along that the Tennessee coaching staff would be evaluated at the end of the season, yet a good portion of the Vols' fan base has been calling for Jones' head since the Vols' loss at Florida, and, with each week that passes and with Jones still calling the shots, the frustration continues to mount.
Another issue that is creating more tension among the fan base is the fact that Florida fired Coach Jim McElwain after less than three years and two SEC East titles. McElwain had been drawing the ire of Gator fans since the beginning of the year for the team's lack of offense and, when he mentioned alleged death threats that may or may not had actually happened, Florida officials saw an opening to fire him for "cause" and his tenure at Florida was over. While The Gators acted swiftly in firing McElwain, John Currie has been very methodical in handling the Vols' situation, so Tennessee fans obviously feel they need to take matters into their own hands. They feel that the Gators have a step up on hiring a new head coach.
Currie stated in an interview on the Vol Radio Network on Monday night that the focus should be on supporting the players in their final four games of the season, with three of them to be played at Neyland Stadium. Currie does have a point when you consider three of the Vols' losses came in the last seconds of the game. (Florida, South Carolina and Kentucky) When you add the fact the Vols have lost several key players to injuries for the second straight year, Currie feels his coach should get the benefit of the doubt so to speak. In other words, let the season play out and see where we stand at the end of November.
For some Tennessee fans, that scenario just isn't good enough. After all, some other team might snatch up Jon Gruden before UT can hire him.
Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for 30 years. He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga television for more than a quarter-century. In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith. They have five grandchildren, Coleman, Boone, Mattingly, DellaMae, and CoraLee.