Multiple news outlets are reporting that Tennessee head football coach Butch Jones informed his players today that he has been fired as their coach.
The move comes after Tennessee's 50-17 loss to Mizzou on Saturday night. An inexplicable loss at SC previous year ruined Tennessee's division title hopes. He has been coaching the defensive line, while holding the title of associate head coach. Currie said he was looking for someone "with the highest integrity and character, with the skills and vision to propel Tennessee to championships". The coach arguably should have been fired then, yet the athletic department either just didn't want to make a change at midseason or wanted to see if Jones could somehow turn this season around.
Jones was under contract through February 28, 2021.
Jones took over Tennessee in 2013 as Derek Dooley's replacement.
The Vols were not only unable to improve or hold serve on the results of the past two seasons, but took a major step back this year.
Tennessee went 9-4 the next two seasons and finished both years ranked nationally, but those seasons are generally viewed as underachieving without an appearance in the SEC championship game given the Vols roster compared to the rest of a down SEC East. The Vols went winless in October and have dropped five of their last six games. He struggled to get the Vols on table footing in SEC competition, posting a 14-24 record against conference foes and was unable to get the program over the hump against rival Florida, Georgia and Alabama consistently. Because Jones was let go without cause, he will be entitled to be paid a buyout of $8,257,580.00, unless there are any deals between the two sides to agree to a reduced buyout.
Fans who loved Jones' constant references to the "Brick by Brick" approach of building a program when he first arrived at Tennessee started to mock his frequent use of clichés and catchphrases. The Volunteers now hold the seventh-best recruiting class for 2018, although it will be up to Jones' replacement to hold those recruits for next season. "The Jones family has poured their heart and soul into this Tennessee football program and the Knoxville community". Tennessee's average home attendance climbed from 89,965 the year before Jones' arrival to 100,968 last season.
When making the next hire, though, Currie said money will not be an issue.
The major off-field issue during Jones' tenure was a Title IX lawsuit filed against the school a year ago by eight unidentified women accusing Tennessee of having a "hostile sexual environment" through a policy of indifference toward assaults by athletes.
Hoke is a familiar name to college football fans, as the former head coach at MI (2011-2014), San Diego State (2009-2010) and Ball State (2003-2008).