Tennessee hired Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones. It’s not the hire fans anticipated – a loud minority made him aware of that on twitter – but it could end up being an excellent hire.
Jones has won, everywhere he has gone as a head coach. He won 11 games at Central Michigan. He is on the brink of consecutive 10-win seasons at Cincinnati. One could argue he followed Brian Kelly at both places. That argument underestimates how how hard it is to win college football games, especially when there is no talent disparity. Yes, Jones lost to Derek Dooley early in 2011. He also beat down N.C. State by 30 and beat Vanderbilt in the bowl game that year.
His track record is far better than Derek Dooley’s was when he took over. It is better as a head coach than Charlie Strong, the guy Tennessee was throwing money at with popular approval. Jones has won more often, at tougher places to win. He is 2-1 head-to-head against Strong, with the one loss coming on the road in overtime. By some measures, Cincinnati was a far better team than Louisville.
Next year’s schedule is frightening. A slow start is to be expected, but there’s no reason to expect Butch Jones won’t be a significant upgrade over Derek Dooley, unless you are a Tennessee fan throwing toys out of your carriage.
Tennessee may not have been good enough job to attract Jon Gruden or other superstar candidates. It was a good enough job that the panicked last resort move was still a decent, sensible coaching hire. As Michigan’s experience shows, there’s a lot to be said for hiring a good coach who is excited about the job, and giving him a large amount of money to hire a defensive coordinator.
[Photo via Presswire]