KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Butch Jones has proven he can take an SEC football program from shambles to back-to-back Top 25 seasons in a four-year window.
That’s what Jones has done at Tennessee, even with Alabama on the schedule every year and games with non-conference heavyweights Oklahoma and Virginia Tech each of the past two seasons.
That’s probably why CBSsports.com has listed Jones as a potential candidate for the Ole Miss head coaching job after this season.
Jones’ rebuild at Tennessee has been impressive from a macro standpoint. Jones was the fourth head coach in a six-year span, and he inherited a Vols’ program that had gone 2-14 in SEC games the two years preceding his hire.
Tennessee was on probation through 2014 and dealing with an ugly Title IX lawsuit that cast a negative shadow over a once-proud athletics program.
Vols fans have been critical of close losses and wanted more than back-to-back Top 25 seasons in 2015 and 2016. Jones has also been ridiculed by his own fan base for being too idealistic at times.
New UT athletic director John Currie took over April 1, but despite a positive relationship with Jones, was not able to negotiate an extension.
Super agent Jimmy Sexton has since swooped in and secured Jones, adding him to his impressive list of clientele — which also includes Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher.
Sexton’s presence, power and persuasion has fueled speculation Jones could be headed for a big payday, and Tennessee might have been wise to have locked him down this summer.
All this leads to the question, where will Jones be coaching next season?