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The University of Tennessee’s Search is Over | Jones

A Rocky Ride for Rocky Top

The roller coaster has stopped and the University of Tennessee has a new head coach, Butch Jones.  After several days of rumors, interviews, tracking of the UT corporate jet, offers and waiting for decisions from candidates, the turbulent ride is concluded.

The official announcement of the hiring of Lyle Allen “Butch” Jones, Jr. as the new man in Knoxville will take place at a press conference scheduled at 2:30 p.m. today.

JonesThe 44-year old Jones will be the fourth football coach in six seasons at Tennessee not including offensive coordinator Jim Chaney as interim head coach in the 2012 season finale after Derek Dooley’s firing.  Dooley lasted three years.

Jones is the former head coach at the University of Cincinnati, where he has already resigned.

”I would like to thank Butch Jones for his time at the University of Cincinnati,” Bearcats’ athletic director Whit Babcock said in a 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.”

Tennessee had been searching for a replacement since November 18 of this year when Dooley was fired.  Previously, Phillip Fulmer was let go in 2008 with a career 152-52 record at Tennessee. Lane Kiffin coached the Volunteers in 2009 before exiting to take the same job at the University of Southern California.

Jones is now faced with rebuilding a program with exceedingly high expectations and a rich history in the Southeastern Conference, the most revered conference in college football.


Butch’s Bio

JonesJones head coaching career has spanned six years and was 23-14 over the past three years as the Bearcats’ head coach.  Prior, he was 27-13 at Central Michigan after returning as head coach beginning in 2007.

Jones has followed in the footsteps of Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly at both, Central Michigan and Cincinnati.  Jones has continued to have a successful program at each stop with his career winning percentage at .649.

Kelly and the Fighting Irish are ranked No. 1 and will play for a BCS national championship this year against Alabama.

During Jones tenure, Central Michigan won two Mid-American Conference titles. Although 4-8 in his first year at Cincinnati, the Bearcats went 19-6 since and tied for first place in the Big East the last two seasons.

Cincinnati’s 2011 season included a 45-23 loss at Tennessee, but the university gave Jones a contract extension after the season that includes a $1.4 million buyout for departure before Jan. 1.

In 2005, Jones was the wide receivers coach at West Virginia University under Rich Rodriguez where the school had back-to-back Top 10 seasons.

His first stop at Central Michigan allowed him to coach tight ends for a year, two  more as running backs coach and became offensive coordinator from 2002- 2004.

Stops at Wilkes University (1992) and his alma mater, Ferris State (1995) as offensive coordinator proved his offensive acumen.

As a college senior, Jones began the road to coaching as an intern for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and in 1990 moved on to a job as a defensive assistant at Rutgers immediately after college.


The Chase

Having looked for a replacement head coach to lead the Vols back to prominence, the university has considered Jon Gruden, who has ties to the university.  Gruden also is a former Super Bowl-winning coach and current ESPN analyst.  This rumor- laden pursuit was ended when Gruden indicated he was not interested in the position and hinted at a return to the NFL sidelines, instead.


Charlie Strong press conference announcement.

Charlie Strong was the next publicly pursued name.  Strong, head coach at the University of Louisville, was offered the position and sent the Cardinals fan base into a tizzy.  Local Louisville media buzzed and followed every move and scrutinized each remark made in press conferences awaiting the decision; so waited the Big Orange fan base.

Strong announced his decision to stay the Cardinals’ coach on Thursday, turning down the hefty offer and lure of returning to the SEC, where he served as the defensive coordinator at Florida before taking the Louisville job.

Meanwhile, with the focus on the forth coming announcement by Strong, Butch Jones was turning down the offer to go to Colorado.  The Purdue coaching position was also an option for Jones until he withdrew his name from consideration.


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