The University of Tennessee announced today that Butch Jones has been hired as the 24th head football coach of the Vols. Jones owns a 50-27 record (.649) in six seasons as a head coach and joins UT from the University of Cincinnati, where he finished with a 23-14 record (.657) in three seasons with the Bearcats.
Jones was also the head coach for three years at Central Michigan (27-13, .675, from 2007-09). He has won at least eight games in five of his six years as a head coach, including three seasons of nine-plus wins in the last four years (2009, 2011, 2012). Jones also has won 10 or more games twice, finishing 11-2 at Central Michigan in 2009 and posting a 10-3 record and top-25 final national ranking with Cincinnati in 2011.
“I am very pleased that Butch Jones is the head football coach at Tennessee,” said Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Dave Hart. “Butch has a track record of success at every program he has led, and he views Tennessee as the job he coveted. We look forward to Butch leading our football program back to prominence.”
Jones has won four conference championships in six seasons as a head coach, including the Big East title in 2011 and 2012 with Cincinnati and the 2007 and 2009 Mid-American Conference titles at Central Michigan. He earned Big East Conference Coach of the Year honors from the league after his 10-win season with the Bearcats in 2011 and earned the same honor from CBSSports.com this season.
“It is truly an honor and a privilege to be the head football coach at the University of Tennessee,” said Jones. “I understand the values, traditions, and level of expectations that come with this position, and I look forward to being a part of the Vol Nation.
“I’d like to especially thank Chancellor Cheek and Dave Hart for giving me this great opportunity, and I look forward to the Vols achieving excellence both on and off the field for many years to come.”
This season, Cincinnati finished the regular season 9-3 with a 5-2 record in the Big East to share the conference crown. Jones’s defense ranked 12th in the nation in scoring defense at 17.2 and 12th in red zone defense (70.6%), and Cincinnati has ranked in the top 20 in scoring defense in each of the last two seasons.
A staple of Jones’s program has been success in the classroom, and the 2011 Bearcats were also the only program nationally to win both its conference championship and its league top academic honor, earning the 2010-11 Big East Team Academic Excellence Award. Also that same year, JK Schaffer of the Bearcats named the 2011 American Eagle Outfitters Big East Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year, the second consecutive UC player to earn that honor (John Goebel in 2010).
In five of his six seasons as a head coach, Jones’s teams have earned bowl appearances. He is 34-12 (.739) in conference play and 32-1 in games in which his teams have held a lead either at halftime or entering the fourth quarter.
The 2011 Cincinnati team that finished 10-3 improved six wins from the 4-8 finish in 2010, making the Bearcats the most improved team from a BCS automatic-qualifying conference in the nation that season. Cincinnati also recorded its first bowl win over a BCS opponent, defeating Vanderbilt 31-24 in the Liberty Bowl.
The 2011 Cincinnati team led the nation in tackles for loss (8.62 per game) while ranking second in sacks (3.46), sixth in rushing defense (96.2), and 20th in scoring defense (20.31). The Bearcats also led the Big East and ranked ninth in turnover margin (0.92) while the team’s 33 turnovers forced were tied for fourth nationally. Offensively, the Bearcats ranked second in the conference in rushing yardage (178.5 ypg) while scoring an average of 33.3 points per game.
Over the last two seasons, opponents scored on offensive possessions at a 25.7% rate against Cincinnati, ranking the Bearcats 15th nationally during that time frame. Additionally, opposing offenses scored touchdowns against Cincinnati on only 14.5% of possessions, placing UC sixth in the nation.
Cincinnati has placed eight players on the All-Big East Conference team in each of the last two seasons, including Big East Offensive Player of the Year Isaiah Pead and Big East Co-Defensive Player of the Year Derek Wolfe in 2011. Pead closed out his UC career with consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, the first time a Bearcat back has accomplished that in almost 25 years.
Before accepting the head coaching position at Cincinnati, Jones’s 27-13 record at Central Michigan included a pair of MAC titles, three consecutive bowl appearances, and a No. 23 postseason ranking in 2009. The Chippewas were 22-3 in the MAC during his tenure, and Jones was the only head coach to lead the program to consecutive bowl games as well as the first in the history of the MAC to do so in his first three seasons.
Jones was the wide receivers coach at West Virginia from 2005-06 before he moved to Central Michigan, during which time the Mountaineers went a combined 22-3 and the 2005 squad defeated Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. He served as an assistant at Central Michigan for seven years from 1998-2004, as offensive coordinator (2002-04), running backs coach (1999-2004), and as tight ends coach (1998). Jones was also the offensive coordinator at Ferris State from 1995-97 and at Wilkes University from 1992-95 and also served as an assistant at Rutgers from 1990-92.
Jones is a 1990 graduate of Ferris State University in Michigan, where he was a two-year letterman on the football team. His original entry into the coaching ranks was as an intern with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1987-89.
Jones and his wife, Barb, are the parents of three sons: Alex (16), Adam (12), and Andrew (5).