By Zach Bingham
As the 2016 season came to a close, it was Derek Mason and the Vanderbilt Commodores who got the last laugh. We never thought the worst offense in the SEC could out-duel and out score Tennessee, but that’s exactly what happen, 45-34.
But, it was more about what happened after the game that shook the state.
First, Derek Mason yelling these words should make everyone that cheers for the Big Orange cringe.
After Vanderbilt upsets Tennessee, Commodores coach Derek Mason yells, "THIS IS OUR STATE." pic.twitter.com/q1hMvidvxS
— Jesse Simonton (@JesseReSimonton) November 27, 2016
The Vandy coach is right, though. His team does own the state. After beating MTSU, TSU and now the Vols, the Dores proved that they don’t deserved to be the punch line at the end of an SEC joke. In three seasons, Mason has built his program from the ground up, the right way.
Unlike Butch Jones, he didn’t have players transfer from the program. He didn’t dodge the tough questions, deflect and talk about Life Championships or leave his senior quarterback out to dry in the media room.
Butch Jones left media room b4 most press members could make it down elevator.
So who is there to take questions from media?
His Sr QB.
— Jonathan Hutton (@Hutton1045) November 27, 2016
Derek Mason coached a disciplined group of players that believed in what he was telling them. Vandy isn’t a great team, but they got better every game throughout course of the season. That, is how a program is built brick by brick.
Derek Mason starts out presser by praising Josh Dobbs and what a great competitor he is. Class move. pic.twitter.com/XR45gOjh8H
— Big Joe (@BIGJOEONTHEGO) November 27, 2016
Now, quarterback Kyle Shurmur gets an extra game and has two more years to make Vanderbilt a contender in the SEC East. At this moment, I have more confidence in Derek Mason building a program than I do Butch Jones.
We know what direction Vandy is going, but where is Tennessee headed?
I think the Vols are going the wrong way, with an egotistical control freak at the helm. Butch Jones wants all the credit when his team wins but can’t handle the scrutiny when things get tough. I’m sure all Tennessee fans would agree with me when I say, you can’t lose to Vanderbilt. You just can’t. Rivalry games are what make college football great, but let’s be honest, the Vols should never get beat by a school that doesn’t put in a fraction of the money Tennessee does.
The Vols were supposed to win the East this year. It was going to be their year, right? It should have been. A veteran laden team with a Florida and Georgia win, combined with an easy road to close out the year against subpar competition, is the perfect scenario to end up in Atlanta. Complacency got to the Vols against South Carolina and the lack of defensive adjustments cooked their goose against Vandy.
UT is a 6-6 football team that stole games from App State and Georiga.
— Cody Dugger (@dugonics5) November 27, 2016
The head coach of the University of Tennessee is asked to do a lot, but it comes down to winning games. Butch talked this team up from the moment he took the job. 2016! That’s our year. We’ll have this unbelievable recruiting class that will grow and mature. Jalen Hurd will be our work horse back. Josh Dobbs will improve throwing the football. The defense will help the offense.
All of that, fell short.
The Vols fan base should be pissed. They were promised results and got mediocrity.
Butch Jones, though, will not be defined by 2016. Jones will be defined by what he does in 2017. The seat is becoming hotter and hotter. The man who hired him, Dave Hart, is retiring and a new athletic director is taking over. That means a new boss and a shift of power.
Tennessee is a program that should be vying for SEC and National Championships. They have one of the most passionate fan bases in the country, millions of dollars devoted to the program and over the last decade, have nothing to show for it.
Things will change in the offseason but if the team is not fixed, Butch Jones will be the one out the door and someone else will get their shot. Mark my words.
Tennessee won’t stand for it, nor should they.