Tennessee Football: Butch Jones a Perfect Choice to Get Program Back on Track

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2012

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 29: Head coach Butch Jones of the Cincinnati Bearcats directs his player to sing along with the marching band after they defeated the Virginia Tech Hokies 27-24 at FedExField on September 29, 2012 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images

Tennessee did well to hire Butch Jones as the next head coach of the Volunteers football team, something that will be announced at a news conference on Friday afternoon, according to the team's official Twitter account:


— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) December 7, 2012

Jones, 44, has spent three years at Cincinnati, going 23-14. In six seasons as head coach at Cincinnati and Central Michigan—succeeding Notre Dame's Brian Kelly at both spots—Jones has a career record of 50-27.

Eight of those 14 losses at Cincinnati came in Jones' first season, when the program was dealing with an exodus of players—and coaches. Over the last two years, Jones led the Bearcats to a 19-6 record, averaging 32 points per game on offense while allowing fewer than 20 per game to the opposition.

Since Phillip Fulmer led Tennessee to a 10-4 record and a victory over Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl back in 2007, Volunteers football has enjoyed only one winning season—a 7-6 record under Lane Kiffin in 2009. 

The program has gone 28-34 over that time—and gone through three head coaches in Fulmer, Kiffin and the recently departed Derek Dooley.

Jones hasn't stayed long at either of his past two jobs, which could lead to some trepidation from Tennessee fans that three years from now, the school will be looking for yet another head coach.

But Jones hasn't coached at a school with as rich a history—or one as easy to sell to recruits—as Tennessee.

That's right; I said Tennessee will be an easy place for Jones to sell to recruits.

Consider this: He's added considerable talent to the Cincinnati program over the past few years—talent that comes from all across the country, not just the Midwest.

He did that in Cincinnati, a place that doesn't have the allure of SEC football, of playing in front of 102,000 people at Neyland Stadium.

It might take him a year or two to get things in place, but Butch Jones is going to put Tennessee football back where it belongs—among the SEC's elite as a place where the best high school players in the country cannot wait to play.

Well done, Tennessee. Well done.