Butch Jones has been fired as the head football coach of the University of Tennessee. The news was first reported by Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports and Sports Illustrated.
“Unfortunately, we are not where we need to be competitively,” Tennessee’s first-year athletic director John Currie said in a statement released on Sunday afternoon. “For that reason, I have asked Coach Jones to step down as head football coach. I know Coach Jones will be successful moving forward, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”
“An exhaustive search is underway for a person of the highest integrity and character with the skills and vision to propel Tennessee to championships. This search will be my sole focus, and I will be in regular contact with Chancellor Davenport. I want to make clear that we are intensely committed to hiring the best coach for Tennessee.”
According to ESPN’s Chris Low, defensive line coach Brady Hoke will serve as the interim coach for the remainder of the season. Hoke is the former head coach of Michigan, where he went 31-20 in four seasons.
A team meeting was held this afternoon at 1 p.m. ET, as it is assumed that Jones was allowed to address the team. Currie is scheduled to hold a press conference later today at 5 p.m. ET to address the firing of Jones.
The firing comes following a blowout loss at Missouri last night, 50-17. It was the Vols’ fifth loss in their past six games as the Vols moved to 0-6 in SEC play on the season. Just a couple of weeks ago, Tennessee lost to Kentucky for just the second time in 33 years.
With the loss to Missouri, Tennessee has now lost its most recent game with all 13 SEC teams.
In the loss to the Tigers, the Vols offense turned the football over four times while the defense allowed Missouri to rush for 433 yards and tally 659 total yards of offense.
Jones departs from Knoxville with a record of 34-27 in five seasons as the Vols’ head coach. Despite back-to-back nine in seasons as he entered the 2017 season, Jones is just 3-9 in his past 12 SEC games. Jones finishes his tenure on Rocky Top with an abysmal 14-24 record in conference play.
Because Jones is owed $2.5 million for every year remaining on his contract, his buyout will be around $8 million. However, if Jones accepts another coaching job, that number will decrease.
“The Jones family has poured their heart and soul into this Tennessee football program and the Knoxville community,” Currie said. “We have been fortunate to have Coach Jones lead our program for the last five years. During that time, the program has improved tremendously in the areas of academics, discipline and community involvement.”
After 32 years of Johnny Majors and Phillip Fulmer, the next head coach will be Tennessee’s fifth in the past 11 years.
Tennessee will finish the season with games against LSU this coming Saturday before playing Vanderbilt on Nov. 25. At 4-6, the Vols must win out in order to reach a bowl game for the fourth consecutive season.
“I know Vol Nation will rally around this team and support our student-athletes as they compete the remainder of the season,” Currie said.
Edited by Seth Raborn
Featured image by Ruth Dudley, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics