Comparative hires also will be a factor.
Since UT hired Jones away from Cincinnati last week, two other hires have become relevant to Tennessee football.
Once Jones was out at Cincinnati, Tommy Tuberville was in. In fact, he abandoned Texas Tech so fast, you would have thought Cincinnati was his dream job.
Two days later, Bobby Petrino — the coach with the great record and the not-so-great image — was hired by Western Kentucky athletic director Todd Stewart.
UT could have hired either Petrino or Tuberville if it had been so inclined. Instead, it hired a younger coach with a lesser resume and agreed to pay him about what Petrino and Tuberville will make combined.
Tuberville is 58, so you could make the case that his best days are behind him after he went 20-17 in three seasons at Texas Tech. But he has won everywhere he has been, including Ole Miss when its recruiting was restricted by NCAA sanctions. He went 13-0 at Auburn in 2004, won consistently in the SEC, and has excelled in big games.
Petrino is younger than Tuberville but carries considerably more baggage. As one college job after another was filled the first week of December, you might have wondered if college administrators had made a no-Petrino pact.
Either that or no one was willing to accept the initial wave of criticism that was sure to come from hiring a coach who had an extramarital affair while coaching Arkansas, put his mistress on the athletic department payroll as well as the back of his motorcycle, and lied to his athletic director about the whole sordid affair.
Western Kentucky balanced all those negatives with the positives. He's an offensive whiz. He improves programs — fast. He knows what it takes to win in the SEC. He's in good standing with the NCAA. And you wouldn't have to pay him $3 million a year.
Both Petrino and Tuberville will have challenging jobs. UT fans can see that firsthand in Petrino's case. The Vols will play Western Kentucky in their second game, Sept. 7 at Neyland Stadium. My guess: His Hilltoppers will be better than the ones UT beat 63-7 in their 2009 season opener.
But maybe Jones' Vols also will be better than Lane Kiffin's 2009 UT team, which lost to UCLA the week after it routed Western Kentucky and finished the season 7-6.
It will be interesting to see what Tuberville does with the talent Jones left behind at Cincinnati, which will lose half of its starters. If Tuberville falters, UT fans will gain a greater appreciation for what Jones did at Cincinnati, where he went 4-8 in his first season but won 19 of 25 game the past two seasons.
Photo by Adam Brimer, Knoxville News Sentinel // Buy this photo
But suppose Tuberville and Petrino succeed and Jones struggles at UT. Imagine the hindsight view of his hiring.
If Jones succeeds, there won't be any second-guessing. Athletic director Dave Hart will be applauded for looking beyond more proven coaches and choosing a rising star.
And what happens with Petrino and Tuberville won't be worthy of a tweet in Tennessee.