The Scoop on Butch Jones to Tennessee
The speculation at Tennessee is finally over, Butch Jones is officially heading to Knoxville to take over the head coaching position. A press conference has been scheduled for 2:30pm ET.
Jones' coaching career started as a grad assistant at Rutgers back in 1990, before he moved on to the offensive coordinator at Wilkes College (D-III - PA). From there he moved back to his native Michigan (he was born in Saugatuck), where he took over as the offensive coordinator at his alma mater Ferris State (D-II - MI), and eventually moved on to Central Michigan where he served in numerous capacities (coaching the tight ends and then running backs) before being named offensive coordinator.
Jones then spent a brief one year stint at West Virginia coaching the receivers before coming back to Central Michigan as the head coach in 2007, and then moving on to Cincinnati in 2010, following in Brian Kelly's footsteps at each stop.
Overall as a head coach, Jones has compiled an impressive record of 50-27, including a 32-12 in conference play (combined in both the MAC and Big East).
Under Jones' leadership, Cincinnati has always been one of the most exciting offensive and defensive units to watch. On offense, they've been known to spread you out and be incredibly balanced, and on defense they're going to be fundamentally sound and pin their ears back and flat out get after the quarterback.
At Tennessee, Jones will take over a program rich in history that has taken a step back in recent years. 2010 and 2011 marked the first time in school history that the program had finished under .500 in back to back years. Their losing season this year solidifies the first time that the Vols have had three consecutive losing seasons in the University's history. While the Vols rank in the top 25 in passing, total offense, sacks allowed, and scoring offense, they really struggled on the defensive side of the ball this season. They ranked 86th in both rushing defense and pass efficiency defense, and 104th or lower in total defense and scoring defense. Turning around a program that plays in the toughest conference in the country is going to prove to be quite the challenge for Jones and his staff.
Taking a look at their schedule for next season, they'll play at Oregon and at Florida in back to back weeks (weeks three and four of the season), and will also have to travel to Alabama later in the year. Home games include contests against Georgia, South Carolina, Auburn and Vanderbilt. Not exactly the type of schedule that most coaches would like to see coming into a new job, but such is life in the SEC.
Tennessee could end up being a very good fit for Jones. It's an area that's not far removed from where he has established his Midwest recruiting ties, and is at a University with a proven track record and is able to give a new head coach all the resources that he will need in order to be successful. He'll have access to top shelf facilities and the financial backing to assemble the best staff that he can find. The schedule will be tough, and it will likely be an uphill battle, but no team in the SEC has an easy road.