Butch Jones introduced as the new head coach of the UT football team
Jones met with his players this morning in Cincinnati. The school announced his resignation shortly thereafter.
Jones arrived in Knoxville with UT athletic director Dave Hart around noon.
Jones waited this week while the Vols’ search unsuccessfully targeted Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy and Louisville’s Charlie Strong. Courted by both Purdue and Colorado in the last five days, Jones nearly agreed to a contract with the Buffaloes on Wednesday night, but backed out when Strong turned down the Vols contract offer. A day later, Jones met with Hart to put the new deal in motion.
“I’d like to especially thank Chancellor Cheek and Dave Hart for giving me this great opportunity," said Jones in a release, "and I look forward to the Vols achieving excellence both on and off the field for many years to come.”
Jones, who will turn 45 next month, has a career path that has closely followed that of Brian Kelly, his one-time boss at Central Michigan. When Kelly left for Cincinnati after the 2006 season, Jones replaced him, going 27-13 in three seasons. When Kelly left UC for Notre Dame, Jones followed him again. Jones is 23-14 in three seasons with the Bearcats, including a 10-win performance in 2011.
Cincinnati (9-3) is scheduled to meet Duke in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 27. It’s unlikely that Jones will coach in that game, although that has yet to be confirmed.
Jones grew up in Saugatuck, Mich., and graduated from Ferris State in 1990. Jones made $1.77 million this year. It will cost $1.4 million to buy out his contract.
Jones replaces Derek Dooley, who was fired on Nov. 18 after three losing seasons. He becomes Tennessee’s third permanent head coach since Phillip Fulmer was forced out after the 2008 season.
Jones has been to Knoxville before. The Bearcats were routed by Tennessee 45-23 on Sept. 12, 2011, in Neyland Stadium. Cincinnati recovered from the loss to finish the season ranked 25th, giving Dooley his only win against a team that finished the year in the Top 25.
Jones had been a rumored finalist for jobs at Kentucky and Colorado, but sources in both searches have said that he told them he was holding out to see if he could get the Tennessee job.
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.
Related: Butch Jones biography
Related document: Butch Jones' Memorandum of Understanding with Tennessee
Timeline of events
Nov. 10: On the heels of a third consecutive winless October in the SEC and a less-than stellar homecoming win over Troy, Tennessee falls to Missouri in four overtimes, 51-48. The game is notable for then-coach Derek Dooley's decision to not play for the win at the end of regulation with two timeouts and the ball near midfield.
Nov. 17:Tennessee loses to Vanderbilt in Nashville for the first time since 1982, 41-18. It is the worst loss the Vols have had to their in-state foe in multiple generations. The loss guarantees a three-season sub-.500 streak for Tennessee for the first time in over 100 years.
Nov. 18: UT athletics director Dave Hart meets with, and fires, coach Dooley in the early morning hours. Dooley elects not to coach the regular-season finale with Kentucky. Hart announces that he will be a committee of one in his search for a new coach.
Nov. 24: Tennessee wins against Kentucky to end the season at 5-7 and remain, along with Ohio State, one of only two Football Bowl Subdivision teams never to lose eight games in a season.
Nov. 30: Ending days of speculation, UT sources and Jon Gruden's agent both refute claims that the former NFL coach and Vols' graduate assistant was close to coming to coach the Vols, with his agent calling it, "fantasy."
Dec. 5: Louisville coach Charlie Strong turns down the Tennessee job. UT's Hart had returned to Knoxville from meeting with Strong in Louisville convinced he had found his next coach, according to reports.
Dec. 7: Butch Jones tells Cincinnati he is leaving to take the head coaching position at Tennessee.