Former SEC coach Houston Nutt on Butch Jones, Tennessee: ‘You can still get to Atlanta’

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee suffered its worst loss in Neyland Stadium last Saturday when Georgia defeated the Vols 41-0, and the ire of the fans fell on coach Butch Jones.

The hot-seat chatter has become louder than ever and the season might seem like it’s slipping away from Jones.

Former Arkansas and Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said the season might not be completely lost yet when he spoke with the media after speaking to the Knoxville Quarterback Club at Calhoun’s On The River.

“Overall, I think he’s done a good job,” Nutt said. “The thing that’s tough, is I know what Tennessee is about. Just being from afar, I know the expectations. They are very, very hard, but you’ve got to embrace it because they expect championships. The [SEC] East is a little down, so you can still get to Atlanta.”

Having two losses in the conference makes it unlikely the Vols will play for an SEC championship in 2017. A game on the road against No. 1 Alabama looms later this month, and that may eliminate any hope. The possibility is still there, though.

Tennessee has won four of its last 10 SEC games, and the pressure from disgruntled fans seems to grow by the week. Nutt agreed Jones’ performance has placed him on the hot seat, though he argues that mostly every coach in the country is on it, too.

“He is, it’s just a fact,” Nutt said. “You’re in a great place with great facilities. I used to tell all my coaches, ‘We’re always on the hot seat.’

“Unless you’re Nick Saban, you’re on the hot seat. That’s just the way it is. Accept it, embrace it.  That’s why you get paid big money.”

Tennessee (3-2, 0-2 SEC) shouldn’t give up on the season, according to Nutt. There are plenty of places the Vols can improve heading into the bye week.

“I wouldn’t say it’s over, yet,” Nutt said. “I’ve been to Atlanta with two losses (he even made it with three in 2002 because of Alabama’s postseason ban). There isn’t much you can control, but you can control if you get better this week. You either get better or get worse every single day. You got to win the next game and you got to score some points.

“Tennessee didn’t score any points last week, you’ve got to score some points.”

Nutt coached in the SEC for 14 years. He’s been through the hot-seat talk before and offered some perspective on how he dealt with it. Nutt said focusing on what the media says or writes will only make matters worse. Tennessee must turn inward and focus on each other.

“The best way to do it is to get so locked into your team,” Nutt said. “It’s your team and your coaches. To worry about or put energy on anything else, you’re wasting energy. You can coach and control what you can control. You’ve got to be locked in.”

The post Former SEC coach Houston Nutt on Butch Jones, Tennessee: ‘You can still get to Atlanta’ appeared first on SEC Country.

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