Tennessee parts ways with Butch Jones

Reports surfaced Sunday UT had parted ways with Coach Jones, who has led the Vols to a 4-6 record so far in the 2017 season.

Butch Jones is out at Tennessee.

UT has parted ways with Coach Jones, who has led the Vols to a 4-6 record so far in the 2017 season. 

The team had a meeting at 1 p.m. Sunday to discuss the announcement. A press conference is set for 5 p.m.

MORE: UT Athletics Director: Coach Hoke will serve as Vols interim head coach

Jones, 49, posted a 34-27 record in his four-plus seasons at Tennessee, including a 14-24 mark in Southeastern Conference play.

Jones had three years remaining on his contract, which owed him $4.1 million annually through the 2020 season.

Tennessee (4-6, 0-6 SEC) parts ways with Jones on a sour note after 50-17 drubbing at the hands of Missouri.

Athletics Director John Currie said Sunday that Brady Hoke will be the interim coach.

The Vols are currently set to host LSU on Saturday, Nov. 18.

RELATED: What is Butch Jones' legacy?

"We have two games left in Neyland Stadium," Jones said after the Vols' loss at Missouri. "And again, how do you want to be remembered? How do you want to finish this off? Seniors, same thing. Same thing -- these kids have to come to work every single day. They have really been remarkable, and they're playing hard. You just, you have to go back to work. That's all I can say, and they're very prideful and they understand what's at stake.

Jones said earlier in the season he "absolutely" felt he still had the support of Currie and the administration. He also said he didn't feel any more pressure mounting during the Vols' four-game losing streak.

"I coach for my job every single day," Jones said. "That hasn't changed since the minute I walked in here in Year One. That's always a mindset I've had."

The season was a roller coaster for Jones, who departs with a career 84-54 record as a head coach.

The Vols began the season on Labor Day with a double-overtime thriller in Atlanta against Georgia Tech, culminating in a 42-41 victory.

From there, bad fortune hit some of the Vols’ high-profile players. Star wide receiver Jauan Jennings injured his wrist against the Yellow Jackets, and was later ruled out for the season. Defensive back Todd Kelly Jr. suffered a lower body injury that cost him most of the 2017 campaign. Defensive tackle Shy Tuttle, kick returner/defensive back Evan Berry and center Jashon Robertson also missed significant time.

Tennessee suffered a heartbreaking loss in Gainesville to the Florida Gators in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. The Vols’ kicking duo of Brent Cimaglia and Aaron Medley missed a combined three of their five field goal attempts as UT struggled to put up points. With the game 20-20 and time expiring in regulation, Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks evaded Tennessee defenders and threw a 63-yard pass to receiver Tyrie Cleveland for a game-winning touchdown. The Vols lost, 26-20.  

A seemingly lifeless team eked out a 17-13 win over Massachusetts the next week. The anemic Vols’ offense scored no touchdowns in the second half.

“Just flat out unacceptable,” Jones said after the game. “The performance is unacceptable.”

Jones blasted the local media just two days later for negativity in its coverage of the team.

"Sometimes the negativity is overwhelming,” Jones said. “If everyone is Vols fans, how do we let our opponents use this in the recruiting process with fake news?”

Tennessee followed its lackluster performance against UMass with a devastating 41-0 loss to Georgia. It was the first time an opponent had shut out the Vols since Florida did it in Knoxville in 1994.

"Right now, we're being tested," Jones said. "There's no excuses. There's no hiding behind it. We're going to find out who the true leaders are. We're going to find out who the true competitors are."

The Vols dropped a game to South Carolina after a bye week, 15-9. They then floundered in Tuscaloosa against No. 1 Alabama in a 45-7 blowout loss.

“Like I told them, our leadership’s being challenged, our maturity’s being challenged," Jones said after the game. "But we have to continue to stay together and work. How you feel in that locker room right now, you have to apply it during the week – Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday – all that in terms of sacrificing and committing.”

UT introduced Jones as its 23rd head football coach in program history on Dec. 7, 2012. Tasked with a rebuild in the wake of his predecessor, Derek Dooley, Jones led the Vols to a 5-7 record in 2013.

The 2014 Vols finished the regular season 6-6, earning a bid to the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida. There, they beat Iowa 45-28, securing their first bowl win since 2007. Jones’ 2015 Vols finished their season 9-4, including a 45-6 rout of the Northwestern Wildcats in the OutBack Bowl.

Jones began to draw ire from the Tennessee fan base in 2016. After leading the Vols to a 5-0 start - their best since their national championship season in 1998 - Jones saw his team drop three SEC games in a row. The losing streak was capped by a loss at unranked South Carolina, effectively eliminating Tennessee from its division title hopes. The Vols would finish the regular season on a sour note with a 45-34 loss at Vanderbilt, dropping to 8-4. The team later defeated Nebraska in the Music City Bowl in Nashville. With the win, Tennessee had won three straight bowl games for the first time since 1994-1996.

RELATED: Vols' top 10 moments from 2016

Prior to his time with the Vols, Jones served as head coach at Cincinnati from 2010-2012, where he posted a 23-14 record at the helm for the Bearcats. Jones coached at Central Michigan from 2007-2009, compiling a 27-13 record (21-3 in the Mid-American Conference).

Jones has served as an assistant coach at Rutgers, West Virginia, and Central Michigan, among other schools. He started his career as an intern with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1987.

© 2018 WBIR.COM


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment