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When Butch Jones took over the University of Tennessee football program at the end of the 2012 season, a Vol Nation that had been very verbal in wanting a more “splashy” hire seemed disappointed. Coming from Cincinnati in the Big East, not a lot of people knew much about him. He’d visited Knoxville in 2011 for a 45-23 loss to the Vols. But who was Butch Jones?
His head coaching records of 27-13 at Central Michigan and 23-14 while at Cincinnati are impressive. And following Brian Kelly at both schools couldn’t have hurt—Kelly just took Notre Dame to the BCS Championship.
Jones took both Central Michigan and Cincinnati to conference titles and bowl championships, earning himself Big East Coach of the Year while at Cincinnati. At 44, Butch Jones is clearly a coach on the rise.
After public failures in trying to lure Jon Gruden and Charlie Strong, some considered Jones a desperation hire. Fact is: Many well-known sports pundits had Butch Jones at the top of the list.
Jones’ style of play should do well in the SEC. A fast, up-tempo offense, with a strong running game and a versatile, potent passing game. And he will re-implement a 4/3 defense that will help the Vols move past last year’s dismal, dubious record-setting season.
We have to take a wait and see attitude. It may take several seasons, and of course, quality recruiting, but within two to three years, a Butch Jones-led UT football program should again be a SEC powerhouse.