It's official: UT hires Jones

Butch Jones will be the University of Tennessee’s next head football coach, school officials confirmed Friday morning.

Barring any unforeseen, last-minute snags, Butch Jones will be the University of Tennessee's next football coach, govols247 has learned.

Jones, a 44-year-old with a 50-27 career record as a head coach, will leave his current job as the University of Cincinnati and move a few hours down I-75 to coach the Volunteers after first being identified by govols247 as the frontrunner on Thursday.

He will be introduced today during a 2:30 p.m. EST press conference at Neyland Stadium.

A native of Saugatuck, Mich., Jones played college football at Ferris State before interning with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a senior and then taking a graduate assistant position at Rutgers from 1990-91. He then became offensive coordinator at Wilkes (1992-94) and Ferris State (1995-97) before jumping to the NCAA Division I FBS level as at Central Michigan in 1998. He stayed at CMU until 2004, coaching the tight ends and then the running backs before taking over as offensive coordinator from 2002-04.

Jones jumped into a big FBS conference in 2005, coaching West Virginia’s wide receivers for two seasons before returning to CMU as head coach in 2007. After a successful stint with the Chippewahs — which featured two conference championships in three seasons — Jones took over at Cincinnati in 2010. The Bearcats struggled to a 4-8 record in Jones’ first season but went 10-3 in 2011 and have gone 9-3 this season heading into a Dec. 27 Belk Bowl game against Duke. It’s not clear at this point whether Jones will coach that bowl game.

Cincinnati played two SEC teams last season — losing at Tennessee but beating Vanderbilt in the Liberty Bowl — and the Bearcats finished in a tie for the Big East title in two of Jones’ three seasons.

Tennessee’s coaching search took several turns along the way, reaching its most infamous point with Louisville coach Charlie Strong’s Thursday-night decision to turn down a lucrative contract offer, but the Vols have seemingly kept Jones in their back pocket for a while and were pleased that Cincinnati’s turned down offers from Kentucky, Purdue and Colorado in the past two weeks.

Multiple sources close to the Kentucky program said Jones initially accepted an offer to coach the Wildcats before turning them down in the end, and he cited potential interest from UT as at least part of the reason for that decision. Jones then interviewed with Purdue and Colorado but ultimately turned down both jobs — though the Denver Post initially reported that he’d accepted the Colorado job and had to issue a correction the following day.

Jones and his wife Bard have three sons: Alex, Adam and Andrew.

The staff at govols247 will continue to monitor this developing story.

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