On Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014, Butch Jones had a picture of himself put on the back of the Neyland Stadium jumbotron. On Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, Jones was fired from the University of Tennessee. According to reports, on Monday, March 5, 2018, his picture will finally be taken off the jumbotron.
Over 110 days since he was fired, and not a day too soon.
Jones left plenty of his remnants on campus and within the football program after his departure, but his face on the back of the jumbotron has been the most outwardly apparent to fans. During his tenure, Jones elected to change the pictures that were there when he started. One of the replacements he chose was of himself, a move that many questioned at the time. After he was fired, everyone was questioning why his ugly mug was still up there, yielding a response from University of Tennessee Chancellor Beverly Davenport.
Please hang on. A crane has been ordered.
— Beverly Davenport (@bev_dav) January 2, 2018
The crane excuse ran out quickly. The powers that be could have at least hung a curtain over his picture or painted over it, but it took them at least a month just to turn the light out behind it. So, the picture must not have been a huge priority. That is, it wasn’t a priority until this week’s news that Jones had apparently connected with Alabama head coach Nick Saban over an available offensive analyst position.
The idea of having an Alabama staff member on the back of Neyland Stadium was apparently the last straw. Just two days after word got out Jones had met with Saban, reports surfaced that a crew will begin the process of taking his picture down on Monday, weather permitting.
Now the real fun question will be answered: who will be chosen to replace him?
It will obviously be someone that means a lot to the Tennessee program, likely a former player. A few of the more popular options are Peyton Manning, Alvin Kamara, Peerless Price or Rashaan Gaulden flipping the birds to Bama fans. There’s a vocal section of the Vol fan base that thinks it should be someone who has already passed away, with the logic being anyone living could still irreparably damage their reputation.
It likely won’t be current head coach Jeremy Pruitt, for obvious reasons. Hopefully the decision-makers at Tennessee have learned from their previous mistakes. With all this in mind, whoever chooses the next picture has plenty to think about.
It does seem that former linebacker Al Wilson is a front-runner as of now, per John Brice from Gridiron Now.
#BREAKING “That’s the plan,” a UT person says of who will be added in place of Butch Jones on the @Neyland_Stadium Jumbotron: https://t.co/fcuy95oVVm @VolkenVol @Nashville_MMA @gmannVOLS @JustinJudy247 @SwainEvent @TonyBasilio @RealLife_J_LO @codylowe88 @Kdcody96
— John Brice (@JohnDBrice1) February 28, 2018
Wilson was a captain of the 1998 BCS Champion team, a five time Pro-Bowler in the NFL and a Tennessee native. Plus, he used to look like a badass with his dark visor and covered neck roll when he played, so whatever picture they choose would probably look pretty cool, too.
It also seems that the other two pictures on the jumbotron of General Robert Neyland and Reggie White will also be replaced.
Vols: Butch Jones' image isn't the only one being replaced on Neyland Stadium video board https://t.co/KGPW2oKLU5
— knoxnews (@knoxnews) March 1, 2018
Neyland will return to the jumbotron after the change, just with a different picture. It is still not confirmed who will be the focal point of the other two pictures.
In the long run, AD Phillip Fulmer has stated he would like to get a digital board to replace the standard pictures. That would be great, so the next time Tennessee fires a coach or a former player gets in trouble, Tennessee fans won’t have to wait for that damn crane to help them move on.