The wait is finally over in Knoxville.
After being rejected by the likes of Jon Gruden, Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy and Louisville’s Charlie Strong, the Tennessee athletic department has finally named Cincinnati’s Butch Jones as its new head football coach.
A press conference has been scheduled for Friday afternoon to officially announce the signing.
Jones accepts the position only days after being rumored to have taken on the coaching duties at Colorado. The Denver Post had falsely reported Jones’ signing with the Buffaloes.
However, his acceptance of the Volunteers job is very real, and his resignation from the Bearcats is effective immediately.
“I would like to thank Butch Jones for his time at the University of Cincinnati,” athletic director Whit Babcock said in a news release. “With that said, we are excited about the future of this program and this job will be extremely attractive nationally. Our search will begin immediately.”
At Tennessee, Jones will succeed Derek Dooley. The son of legendary Georgia coach Vince was fired Nov. 18 after going 15-21 in three years. In alienating one of the nation’s most passionate fan bases, Dooley posted a losing record in each of his three seasons at Tennessee, the first time since 1909-11 the Volunteers have finished below .500 three straight years.
On the other hand, the Vols could not have found someone with a brighter future than Jones, who succeeded current Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly as head coach at Central Michigan and again at Cincy. He went 27-13 in three seasons at Central Michigan before taking on the bigger job with the Bearcats.
In his three seasons at the helm of Cincinnati he led the program to a 23-14 overall record. After going 4-8 in his first season, Jones posted a 19-6 record over the last two seasons and a share of the Big East championship in both years.
Not only has the hiring season been tumultuous for Tennessee, but the last half-decade has been no easier.
The Volunteers ran the greatest coach in the school’s history, Phillip Fulmer, out of town in 2008 after posting a stellar 152-52 career record. He was fired in favor of hot-shot/hot mess Lane Kiffin, who coached Tennessee in 2009 before bolting for Southern California ahead of impending recruiting violations by his staff in Knoxville. Then came, of course, Dooley’s flame out that lasted three years.
Jones’ contract is a reported six-year deal. If he can simply manage to stay aboard the entire time he will have enjoyed a far more successful tenure than the previous two men at the helm.
Uber-talented quarterback Tyler Bray, as well as his superstar receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson are all projected first-round NFL draft picks. However, all are juniors. Jones’ first year in the SEC will be made far easier if any, or all, of the three choose to stick around for their final year on campus.
Is this a good hire by Tennessee? Let us know below!
Quotes from ESPN were used in this report.
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