Coach Butch Jones’ successes with the Tennessee football team gained recognition Wednesday.
The Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation and the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl named Jones to the Dodd Trophy watch list. Jones made the list along with 18 other coaches.
Only three other SEC coaches made the list – Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, Flordia’s Jim McElwain and Alabama’s Nick Saban.
The award combines on-field success with an emphasis on scholarship, leadership and integrity.
The committee takes into consideration a program’s graduation rate, commitment to service and charity in the community, projected success for the 2017 season and Academic Progress Rate (APR).
Jones has turned around the culture at Tennessee.
Tennessee’s APR has steadily risen under Jones. This stood out to the administration at Tennessee.
“When Coach Jones came here four years ago, we were one point away from academic probation,” athletic director John Currie said at a Big Orange Caravan stop in Nashville.
“They completely turned that around. Our academic status is the best it has ever been. It’s really easy to forget the academic aspect of what we do in high education is very important to us.”
Every senior graduated with a degree in 2016.
Jones enters his fifth season with the Vols. He led Tennessee to its third straight bowl last year with a 38-24 victory over Nebraska in the Music City Bowl.
Only Florida and Alabama in the SEC have won nine or more games the past two seasons like Tennessee.
The Vols had six players selected in the first four rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft. The highest mark for the Vols since 2002.
Despite the offseason hot-seat chatter surrounding Jones by some in the national media, others believe he has built a good program.