Being Butch isn’t easy

Marvin Westwestwords

It isn’t easy being Butch Jones.

Paying customers demand perfection. Media types are constantly nipping at his heels.

Famous rivals seek to run him over. His own people sometimes cause consternation. And, he has a new boss.

From another perspective, Butch has it all, good health, fine family, beautiful home, thousands of friends, one of the dream jobs of his life with a firm contract that guarantees numerous blessings – plus perks.

He got a bonus for putting the Vols in the Music City bowl. He gets a bonus for persuading his players to go to school.

Butch is a natural fit for what he does, high energy, bubbling personality, quick with witty phrases. Some make perfect sense.

He is a smart salesman, positive thinker, adaptive to most any setting. That makes him an excellent recruiter. Prospects believe. Parents trust. Grandmothers want him to stay for supper.

He knows enough football and has learned to surround himself with genius. He is an organizer. He pays keen attention to details.

All he has to do to be really happy, even jubilant, maybe overjoyed, is win.

Winning solves most of the little problems that pop up. Winning makes the weather better. Winning improves the taste of food. Winning spills over into the flower garden. Even mums look and smell better.


I can’t be sure but I think winning makes red lights on Kingston Pike turn green.

I know winning improves attitudes. Winning works wonders with Tennessee fans.

It isn’t easy being Butch Jones because winning is not easy.

Being Butch is very challenging. Managing a team requires a variety of skills. Some players come equipped with inspiration. Some are easily led. Some must be pushed. Some must be broken down and reconstructed – at a new position.

Discipline is critical but rules are risky. Misbehavior and suspensions are rarely limited to third-stringers.

Toughness pays dividends but injuries can cost fortunes. If Appalachian State whips you up front, you should have scrimmaged more in preparation. If all your tackles and linebackers get hurt, you should have scrimmaged less.

Winning requires a quarterback. Odds are much better with two. It is difficult to keep two when both can play and both want to be No. 1 and achieve greatness and attract NFL scouts and get drafted in the first round and live happily ever after.

Butch is currently wrestling with that dilemma, one for the starting lineup and one in reserve.

It is not easy being Butch. Unrealistic expectations are stumbling blocks. Fifty or a hundred football programs want to win the one crystal ball, hold it aloft and celebrate a national championship. Fifteen or 20 think they can do it. Some lie to themselves.

Because Phillip Fulmer actually pulled it off 19 years ago, we Tennesseans think it should happen again, at least occasionally. General Robert R. Neyland convinced us that winning is our birthright. Contending for the SEC title is an absolute necessity. Mortgage payments must be made on the big building.

Butch is the focal point of differing opinions. He thinks he has done a good job. Half his world thinks it is not good enough. I will not bring up Alabama as a yardstick.

Being Butch, or coach at any ambitious big-time football school, is far more work than play. It is endless hours with little time to clear the mind. In many cases, it is mission impossible. The heat is always on. Upset losses are deadly. Looking good while losing is worth only a few minutes of satisfaction. Winning without covering the betting line triggers oaths and outbursts.

Coaching, as a way of life, is inherently flawed. The highs are too high and the lows too low. Too many games are decided by luck. Without the monstrous pay checks, coaching would be an unfair job.

Being Butch isn’t easy, at a mediocre $4.1 million per year. If he wins, his new agent will fix that.

Marvin West invites reader reaction. His address is [email protected]

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