This morning, the University of Tennessee announced that Butch Jones, the University of Cincinnati’s head man for the past three seasons, is the choice of Dave Hart.
As of the time of the announcement, Jones was not the choice of the majority of the Vol Nation.
Even with the lucrative price tag of $18 million over six years, he likely wasn’t Tennessee’s first choice, or second choice, or third choice. He likely wasn’t in the top twenty of desired candidates for the vast majority of fans.
But, regardless of the secrecy of the actual process, executed priorities, and actual timeline of the search, Butch Jones is now the head coach of the Vols.
Today at 2:00pm EST, Tennessee AD Dave Hart took to the microphone. Then with his words, during an introductory statement and followup answers to questions from the media, Mr. Hart made it clear that he is his own man and is in control of the current coaching situation.
After last night’s disaster, the only surprise is that nobody knew at what time this would be announced.
An official announcement was released by the university this morning after 11:00 am EST.
Tennessee Athletic Director Dave Hart released this statement:
Derek and I met early this morning, and I informed him that I believed a change in leadership, despite the positive contributions he has made to the overall health of the program, was in the best long-term interests of Tennessee football. We will immediately begin the search for the best possible candidate to assume this leadership role.
The university’s statement also indicated that Dooley will not coach this coming Saturday against Kentucky. Offensive Coordinator Jim Chaney will be the interim.
A press conference will be held in Knoxville at 2:00pm EST. It is widely reported that Dooley will not be in attendance.
More will be posted later today, including a requiem on last night’s embarrassment.
The public response to the Vols’ loss in Starkville last Saturday at Mississippi State was swift. It was also predictable since that game, before kickoff, was christened a crucial game in the career of head coach Derek Dooley.
I’ve stayed out of the Dooley-Must-Go vs. Dooley-Must-Stay debate, because I think it premature for a number of reasons. Highly entertaining, but premature.
This week, I’ve had the opportunity to take some long drives (for work) accompanied by broadcasts of various talk shows on the two major sports radio stations in Knoxville. A lot of hysteria. Some reasoned discussion. Mostly food for further consideration.
It all made me think about the time that the Tennessee Volunteer football program underwent a full-fledged rebuilding program, how the dark days of the last 2+ years are part of a genuine rebuilding phase requiring more than simply a ‘reloading’ effort, and most importantly how hiring even the best coach in the land to stem the tide of decline is not a sure recipe for a quick recovery.