College football spotlight: Butch Jones on the hot seat again after Tennessee’s latest failure

Butch Jones
Butch Jones’ Tennessee team lost 15-9 to South Carolina on Saturday and hasn’t scored a touchdown in 10 quarters.
(Wade Payne / Associated Press)

Tennessee fans are volunteering plenty of opinions about coach Butch Jones.

There are “Fire Butch Jones” pages on Facebook and Twitter. Fans were seen wearing “Fire Butch Jones” shirts during Saturday’s game against South Carolina. There were photos posted by ESPN of people wearing “Keep Butch Jones” shirts, but those were South Carolina fans who seem to like being able to do more than just keep up with the Joneses.

The fuss has been brewing.

Former Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning, who holds demigod status in Knoxville, tried to hold the line by saying he was “all-in behind Butch Jones” on a Tennessee radio show almost three weeks ago. But that endorsement has cooled and the heat under Jones has increased.


The Volunteers were pummeled 41-0 by Georgia at home in their Southeastern Conference opener on Sept 30. Tennessee fans had two weeks to stew about that shellacking and Jones had two weeks to make changes.

Jones threw redshirt freshman quarterback Jarrett Guarantano into that fire against South Carolina. Guarantano, who goes by Broadway Jay on Twitter, hardly opened to rave reviews.

The offense produced just three field goals in a 15-9 loss at Neyland Stadium, leaving the Volunteers without a touchdown in 10 consecutive quarters. Guarantano had three shots from the two-yard line to win the game in the last nine seconds, but failed to connect on three passes.

“It hurts, it stings, I don’t know what else I can tell you,” Jones told reporters afterward.


Tennessee won the national title in 1998 under coach Phillip Fulmer, who was fired in 2008. Since then, three head coaches (Lane Kiffin, Derek Dooley and Jones) and one interim coach (Jim Chaney) have gone 56-51. The loss left Jones with a 33-24 record, which is fine ... if you’re the Vanderbilt coach.

On the bright side, the Volunteers play No. 1-ranked Alabama in Tuscaloosa next week. Jones certainly will meet Tennessee fans’ expectations there.

Deja lose

This seems as much an Indiana tradition as a Bobby Knight chair toss.

The Hoosiers took Michigan to overtime, only to lose when they couldn’t convert a fourth-down pass in a second extra period. That was 2015, when Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld threw an incomplete pass at the goal line, preserving a 48-41 Wolverines victory.

On Saturday, it was Indiana quarterback Peyton Ramsey’s turn. He had a fourth-down pass intercepted in the same end zone, allowing Michigan to escape with a 27-20 overtime victory. It was the Wolverines’ 22nd consecutive victory over the Hoosiers.

The reaction from the Indiana coaches after the game were a bit different.

In 2015, Kevin Wilson said, “There are zero moral victories. We’re not a bad team, but we’re not good enough.”


Current coach Tom Allen was a little more cantankerous Saturday. He was asked about officiating and seemed to think the Hoosiers deserved better.

“Everybody is saying ‘Yeah, I understand how this all works,’’’ Allen said. “But we have to earn the right to get those breaks, period. End of discussion.’’

Allen was pressed on the matter, particularly the moment during the game when he called time out to bark at referees after a pass interference call wiped out an interception by Indiana’s Rashard Fant.

“I saw a great defensive play with a great pick and we had the ball going the other way,’’ Allen said. “That’s what I saw.’’

The final tally on penalties: Michigan 16, Indiana 5.

Child care issues

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh had his take on the Wolverines’ unofficial Flag Day, in which they set a school record with 16 penalties.

“I tell my 6-year-old not to spill the milk. And, gosh darn, the next thing that happens is spilled milk,” Harbaugh told reporters after the game. “[I say] ‘No penalties, no penalties.’ Try to coach them how to not get the penalties, and we’re getting penalties. So, we have to grow there. That’s an area we have to grow and get better.”


Trophy life

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, with one Heisman Trophy on the shelf, continues to put up numbers worthy of earning him another so he can have bookends.

Jackson threw for 332 yards and ran for another 180 while accounting for five touchdowns Saturday. Still, the numbers didn’t add up. The Cardinals were upset by lowly Boston College, 45-42.

The third loss in the past five games left Louisville with a 4-3 record that hurts Jackson’s chances. Ten players who won the Heisman have been on teams with three losses, including USC’s Marcus Allen in 1981. But no Heisman winner has played for a team with four losses since Oklahoma’s Steve Owens in 1969, and the only player to win it on a team with a losing record was Paul Hornung for 2-8 Notre Dame in 1956.

Still, Jackson and the Cardinals are having a better month than the Louisville basketball team.

Upper body strength

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy channeled a little “Magic Mike” before a homecoming crowd Friday. He challenged Mason Rudolph, saying he would remove his shirt if his quarterback would do likewise.

Both stripped down before a packed house at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

It was all a prelude to Saturday’s undressing of the Baylor defense. The No. 14 Cowboys spotted the Bears a 7-0 lead, then rolled to a 59-16 victory. Randolph threw for 459 yards and three touchdowns, and the Cowboys gained a school-record 747 yards.

Meanwhile, back in Knoxville, Fulmer was among those honored in a pregame ceremony. Former Mississippi and Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville, an ESPN announcer for the game, paid his respects ... at first.

“Phil and I had some great battles here,” Tuberville said. “He’s a great coach.”

He then added, “He’s been on the banquet circuit a little too much. He’s killing that triple-X shirt.”

Which, fortunately, Fulmer did not remove.

Hines sight

No. 2 Clemson was toppled by Syracuse on Friday during a game in which the Tigers lost quarterback Kelly Bryant to injury. That leaves No. 20 North Carolina State as the flavor of the week in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Wolfpack staggered at the start Saturday, but are now 6-1 overall and 4-0 in ACC play after a 35-17 victory at Pittsburgh.

“I told our guys in there that we’re in the driver’s seat,” Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said after the game. “The only way to stay there is to keep doing what we’ve been doing and not listen to anybody.”

It took a while for that to happen Saturday. North Carolina State needed a nudge from running back Nyheim Hines. He scored the team’s first two touchdowns — an 83-yard run to tie the score 7-7 and a 92-yard punt return for a 14-7 lead.

Hines finished with 135 yards rushing and 249 all-purpose yards. He also downed two punts inside the 10-yard line. The location of his efforts wasn’t lost on Doeren.

“He showed up at Heinz Field,” Doeren said, adding, “that’s a different spelling.”

Keep your day job, coach.

Maine man

Division III Maine Maritime Academy ended a 12-game losing streak by beating Coast Guard Academy, 36-14, on Saturday behind the play of senior quarterback Corey Creeger.

The Mariners had allowed an average of 49 points in five losses this season. But Creeger accounted for 329 of the Mariners’ 441 yards with 212 yards rushing and 117 yards passing. He had a 55-yard touchdown run and threw touchdown passes of 90 and 15 yards.

He certainly will be the, uh, big man on campus this week.

Creeger is 5 feet 6 and 160 pounds.

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