Jones' winning record might have been even more appealing because of how UT's last two football-coaching hires worked out. Both Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley had losing records when hired by Tennessee.
A winning record is always meaningful. But it's more meaningful if those wins were achieved in the SEC.
Why was Nick Saban such a surefire hire for Alabama? Because he already had won a national championship at LSU.
Why could South Carolina feel so good about hiring Steve Spurrier? Because he already had built and maintained an SEC dynasty at Florida.
And why was Auburn confident that Tommy Tuberville would be successful? Because he already had won at Ole Miss.
Going from another conference to the SEC isn't as big of a step as going from college to the NFL. But it's steep enough to raise doubts as to whether a coach can successfully make the transition.
And it's steep enough to raise questions about each of the four head-coaching hires made by SEC schools this week. None of the new coaches have SEC head-coaching experience.
Kentucky made the most questionable hire. It hired Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, a longtime assistant coach with no head-coaching experience.
Stoops' track record suggests he could upgrade Kentucky's defense. All that's left is the offense, which — according to this season's statistics and eyewitnesses — was even worse than the defense.
Kentucky's best chance for winning and filling up Commonwealth Stadium: an up-tempo, entertaining offense. Take a hint from basketball. The Wildcats didn't build a basketball dynasty by running the four-corners.
Arkansas turned a few heads by hiring Bret Bielema away from Wisconsin, whose Badgers are headed for a third consecutive Rose Bowl. There's nothing wrong with his record. There might be plenty wrong with his power-ball approach in this league.
Question: How's he going to beat Alabama and LSU at their own game in the SEC West? Another question: How's he going to build an offensive line up to Wisconsin's standards at Arkansas?
At Wisconsin, you can go to the Rose Bowl with five losses. In the SEC, five-loss teams spend their bowl weeks in Nashville or Memphis.
My guess: Bielema's BCS-bowl days are behind him.
I'm not so sure about the Gus Malzahn hire at Auburn. He's a terrific offensive coordinator and went 9-3 at Arkansas State in his first season as a head coach. You still have to
wonder if he can manage a higher-profile program and assemble a staff capable of holding its own in the SEC.
He's off to a good start, though. He hired Ellis Johnson as his defensive coordinator. Never mind that Johnson bombed in his one season as Southern Mississippi's coach. At South Carolina, he was regarded as one of the nation's premier defensive coordinators.
Malzahn might have the biggest upside of the four hires. But he faces an enormous challenge, given Auburn's winless season in the SEC and its burgeoning problems with the NCAA.
Jones' biggest problems concern a defense that practically escorted opponents into the end zone and an upcoming schedule that includes Oregon, Florida, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina. As ominous as that schedule might be, there are advantages to coaching in the SEC, most notably recruiting.
High school players aren't just attracted to the SEC because it offers them the best opportunity to win a national championship. It's their best path to the NFL.
Jones sounds like a salesman. And this salesman now has a better product to sell. Instead of Central Michigan and Cincinnati, he's got the Power T and the SEC.
If he can capitalize on that, he might turn out to be the best hire of the four.