KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee started the season within the Top 25 and is ending it with a training change.
The Volunteers fired Butch Jones on Saturday as they enter their remaining two regular-season video games trying to find their first Southeastern Conference victory, a surprising fall for a group that had received bowl video games every of the final three seasons.
Athletic director John Currie mentioned defensive position coach Brady Hoke would function interim head coach for the rest of the season. Jones’ firing comes someday after Tennessee (Four-6, Zero-6) fell 50-17 at Missouri for its fifth loss in its final six video games.
“Late last night it was evident this was probably the direction we needed to go for the best of all concerned,” Currie mentioned at a Sunday press convention. “We have two video games left to play. We wished our student-athletes to have the very best probability for achievement. We need Coach Jones and his household to be handled with the dignity and respect that they deserve. We need to have the ability to focus, from my perspective, on the search going ahead.
“None of us wish to be on this place. But we’re on this place, and now we transfer ahead.”
Jones went 34-27 general and 14-24 within the SEC over 5 seasons. He led the Vols to a Top 25 end every of the final two years earlier than this system took an enormous step backward this fall.
Currie now should start a training search simply 7 1/2 months after taking on as Tennessee’s athletic director . Currie mentioned he was on the lookout for somebody “with the highest integrity and character, with the skills and vision to propel Tennessee to championships.”
“We expect our coach to have the dynamics that would enable him to lead us to where we know Tennessee football can and should be,” Currie mentioned. “Our coach needs to know what that looks like.”
Jones was making $Four.1 million yearly and has a contract that runs by Feb. 28, 2021. According to the letter of dismissal Currie despatched Sunday, the varsity owes Jones a buyout of $eight.26 million. Currie mentioned Sunday that the buyout for your entire workers is within the “$13 million range,” although that determine could possibly be mitigated relying on when and the place Jones and his badistants are capable of finding work.
Jones inherited a program that had posted three straight shedding seasons below former coach Derek Dooley . The Vols went 5-7 for a fourth straight shedding season in Jones’ debut 12 months however adopted that up by going 7-6 in 2014 and posting consecutive 9-Four information the final two years.
But he could not get the Vols an SEC East title even throughout an period when rivals Florida and Georgia have been in transition.
Tennessee hasn’t reached the SEC championship recreation since 2007 and hasn’t received a convention title since its 1998 nationwide championship season. Tennessee was picked to win the East final 12 months however stumbled after a 5-Zero begin .
Then all the things went south this 12 months.
Tennessee, which opened the season ranked 25th, has misplaced its first six SEC video games by a median margin of 21.2 factors. That stretch features a 41-Zero loss to Georgia that marked the Vols’ most lopsided residence defeat since 1905. One month later, Tennessee misplaced 29-26 at Kentucky , which represented simply the second time the Vols had fallen to the Wildcats of their final 33 conferences.
Injuries performed a serious function in Jones’ demise.
Tennessee’s prime returning receiver (Jauan Jennings), prime returning linebacker (Darrin Kirkland Jr.) and prime returning tackler (Todd Kelly Jr.) all had suffered season-ending accidents by mid-September. By the top of the Missouri recreation, Tennessee had solely 5 accessible scholarship offensive linemen, together with two true freshmen and two redshirt freshmen. Injuries to quarterbacks Jarrett Guarantano and Quinten Dormady brought on freshman Will McBride to make his first profession begin Saturday.
As Tennessee’s struggles continued, the criticism of Jones mounted.
Fans who liked Jones’ fixed references to the “Brick by Brick” strategy of constructing a program when he first arrived at Tennessee began to mock his frequent use of cliches and catchphrases .
His most notable misstep in that regard got here final 12 months when he referred to his senior clbad as “champions of life” two days after the Vols have been eradicated from East Division championship rivalry. Tennessee misplaced at Vanderbilt later that week , and the “champions of life” comment was an web meme .
Jones did allow Tennessee to make some notable advances.
Under Jones’ watch, Tennessee’s soccer program dramatically improved its Academic Progress Rate, which had been so low firstly of his tenure that the varsity was vulnerable to going through penalties. Tennessee’s common residence attendance climbed from 89,965 the 12 months earlier than Jones’ arrival to 100,968 final season. Attendance is at 98,090 to date this 12 months.
“I have tremendous respect for Coach Jones and for (Jones’ wife) Barb,” Currie mentioned. “They poured everything into making our program better – and our program is better than when they arrived five years ago.”
The main off-field problem throughout Jones’ tenure was a Title IX lawsuit filed in opposition to the varsity final 12 months by eight unidentified girls accusing Tennessee of getting a “hostile badual environment” by a coverage of indifference towards badaults by athletes. The swimsuit was settled for $2.48 million in July 2016.
Jones has an general document of 84-54. He coached three seasons every at Central Michigan and Cincinnati earlier than coming to Tennessee.