Butch Jones ousted at Tennessee

Butch Jones ousted at Tennessee

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.

Jones, 49, was 34-27 in five seasons at Tennessee. The move has seemed nearly inevitable for weeks.

"Unfortunately, we are not where we need to be competitively", Vols athletic director John Currie said in a statement Sunday afternoon. I know Coach Jones will be successful moving forward, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.

Jones was making $4.1 million annually and has a contract that runs through February 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. That figure could be mitigated if he does land another position.

A native of Saugatuck, Jones was hired to coach the Volunteers in December 2012, following the team's three losing seasons under Derek Dooley.

Regardless of preseason projections, a 4-6 overall record and 0-6 mark in the SEC was not what anyone wanted to see in Knoxville. That included a 14-24 record against SEC competition.

Tennessee's regular-season defeat at Vandy also dashed the chance for the school to go to its first Sugar Bowl in 25 years.

But Jones couldn't push his program up to the higher level that Vols fans expected. However, Hoke was only 20-18 in his last three seasons with the Wolverines, leading to his firing after the 2014 season.

Then everything went south this year.

However, Jones was never able to take UT back to the SEC Championship game.

Two weeks ago, the Volunteers lost at Kentucky 29-26, only its second loss to the Wildcats in the past 33 years.

Tennessee's top returning receiver (Jauan Jennings), top returning linebacker (Darrin Kirkland Jr.) and top returning tackler (Todd Kelly Jr.) all had suffered season-ending injuries by mid-September.

Tennessee tied the Missouri game with 1:15 left in the first half on a 19-yard pass from freshman quarterback Will McBride to tight end Ethan Wolf. Injuries to quarterbacks Jarrett Guarantano and Quinten Dormady caused freshman Will McBride to make his first career start Saturday.

However, Jones did help produce nine National Football League draft picks during his Tennessee tenure and his players collected 18 All-SEC awards and 108 received SEC Academic Honor Roll honors.

If Tennessee wanted to wait until after the season to make a coaching change, the football team's lack of success made that an increasingly hard choice. Attendance is at 98,090 so far this year. "The Jones family has poured their heart and soul into this Tennessee football program and the Knoxville community". The suit was settled for $2.48 million in July 2016.

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