Butch Jones' Time as Tennessee Football Coach is Over

The Butch Jones era is over after five seasons in which he restored Tennessee's program to respectability, only to watch it regress this year after back-to-back nine-win seasons. 

Under Jones, the Vols didn't achieve the success they experienced in the 1990s.

Jones struggled to win consistently within the SEC, especially against rivals Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

Adams: Butch Jones a great Tennessee football salesman with too thin skin and not enough wins

UT announced Jones' firing on Sunday following a 50-17 road loss to Missouri a day earlier. The Vols (4-6, 0-6 SEC) are in danger of missing a bowl game for the first time since 2013, Jones' first season.

"Unfortunately, we are not where we need to be competitively," Vols athletic director John Currie said in a statement Sunday afternoon. "For that reason, I have asked Coach Jones to step down as head football coach. I know Coach Jones will be successful moving forward, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors."

Brady Hoke will take over as interim head coach. Hoke is in his first year as Tennessee's defensive line coach. He has head coaching experience at Michigan, San Diego State and Ball State.

"I know Vol Nation will rally around this team and support our student-athletes as they complete the remainder of this season," Currie said in the statement.

"An exhaustive search is underway for a person of the highest integrity and character with the skills and vision to propel Tennessee to championships. This search will be my sole focus, and I will be in regular contact with Chancellor (Beverly) Davenport. I want to make clear that we are intensely committed to hiring the best coach for Tennessee."

Jones was under contract through Feb. 28, 2021. He's owed about $8.25 million in buyout money, according to the terms of his contract, although he's required to seek comparable employment to mitigate the damages.

All of Jones' assistants are under contract through next season. If none of Jones' assistants are retained, UT could owe up to nearly $13.7 million in buyouts for Jones and his staff.

Jones went 34-27 during his tenure. That included a 14-24 record against SEC competition.

"I would like to thank Butch Jones for his service and dedication to our (football) program," Davenport wrote on Twitter. "We wish Butch and his family all the best in the future. I have full confidence in Athletic Director John Currie and his ability to lead a search for our next (football) coach. I know that John is committed to finding the best person to lead our program in the future."

Jones was plagued by one-possession losses, with a 10-14 record at Tennessee in games decided by eight points or fewer. 

Rexrode: Butch Jones let things that don't matter distract him from what does

Tennessee plucked Jones away from Cincinnati to replace Derek Dooley following the 2012 season, which was the Vols' third straight losing season under Dooley.

Tennessee Record

Year    Team    Record    Conference

2013    Tennessee    5-7    2-6 (6th)

2014    Tennessee    7-6    3-5 (4th)

2015    Tennessee    9-4    5-3 (t-4th)

2016    Tennessee    9-4    4-4 (t-5th)

2017    Tennessee    4-6    0-6

Totals                    34-27   14-24

More: What's Tennessee Vols' cost of not firing Butch Jones?

The Vols went 5-7 in Jones' first season before improving to 7-6 the following year, culminated by a win over Iowa in the TaxSlayer Bowl. It marked the first postseason victory for the Vols since they won the Outback Bowl to finish the 2007 season.

The Vols went 9-4 in each of the past two seasons, including bowl victories each year.

But Jones and Tennessee squandered a chance to win the SEC East last season, a shortcoming that put Jones on shaky footing entering this season. The Vols were in the driver's seat for the division title in 2016 after beating Florida and Georgia to open league play, but they finished just 4-4 in the conference, including losses to South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

The Vols' last division title came in 2007.

More: Butch Jones' replacement as Tennessee football coach: 15 names from Gruden to Gundy

Jones, 49, initially signed a six-year deal with Tennessee before receiving a two-year extension in December 2014.

Jones' annual guaranteed salary was $4.11 million following a $500,000 raise he received in December 2015.

Former athletic director Dave Hart hired Jones.

More: Butch Jones' most head-scratching quotes as Tennessee football coach

More: Butch Jones timeline as Tennessee football coach

John Currie, hired as Hart's replacement in February, will find Jones' replacement.

Currie has never overseen a football coaching change as an athletic director. He was the AD at Kansas State from 2009-17, with Bill Snyder coaching the Wildcats throughout Currie's tenure.

THE JONES FILE

Coaching experience

2012-17: Tennessee, coach

2010-12: Cincinnati, coach

2007-09: Central Michigan, coach

2005-06: West Virginia, wide receivers coach

2004: Central Michigan, running backs coach

2001-03: Central Michigan, offensive coordinator

2000: Central Michigan, running backs coach 

1999: Central Michigan, wide receivers coach

1998: Central Michigan, tight ends coach

1996-97: Ferris State, offensive coordinator

1995: Ferris State, running backs coach

1993-94: Wilkes Univ, offensive coordinator

1990-92: Rutgers, graduate assistant

1987-89: Tampa Bay (NFL), intern

Coaching Record

Year    Team    Record    Conference

2007    Central Michigan    8-6    6-1     (1st)

2008    Central Michigan    8-5    6-2     (t-2nd)

2009    Central Michigan    11-2    8-0     (1st)

2010    Cincinnati    4-8    2-5     (7th)

2011    Cincinnati    10-3    5-2     (t-1st)

2012    Cincinnati    9-3    5-2 (t-1st)

2013    Tennessee    5-7    2-6 (6th)

2014    Tennessee    7-6    3-5 (4th)

2015    Tennessee    9-4    5-3 (t-4th)

2016    Tennessee    9-4    4-4 (t-5th)

2017    Tennessee    4-6    0-6

Totals                    84-54    46-36

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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