By Scott Crumbly
SEC Digital Network
After a third consecutive losing season on the gridiron, the University of Tennessee has brought in former Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones. Jones brings a proven championship pedigree to Knoxville, having won four conference titles in six seasons as a head coach at Central Michigan and Cincinnati, respectively.
Jones’ coaching background comes primarily on the offensive side of the ball, and he’ll have a bevy of weapons at his disposal on a unit that ranked among the Southeastern Conference’s best in 2012. This past season, the Volunteers produced over 36 points per game.
However, the first priority for Jones in Knoxville will be rebuilding a defense that finished at the bottom of the conference in 2012. The Vols (5-7 overall) allowed over 470 yards and 35 points per game on the season, allowing 38 points or more in seven consecutive games.
Coach Jones will be trying to turn the tide of a program while competing in the country’s toughest collegiate conference. Playing in the SEC Eastern Division, the Vols have to face perennial powers such as Florida, Georgia and South Carolina each season and also play a cross-divisional rivalry game with Alabama annually.
Jones is fully aware of the rigors of playing in the SEC, and he is ready for the challenge ahead of him at Tennessee.
“If you want to be best, you want to compete in the best and obviously the SEC is the best football conference in the country,” Jones said at Friday’s introductory press conference. “I have many good friends that compete at this level, on the center stage and I look forward to it.”
At 44 years old, Jones brings a youthful energy with him to go along with established momentum. In six years as coach at Central Michigan and Cincinnati, Jones coached his teams to at least a share of the conference championship in the Mid-American Conference and the BIG EAST four times. He has compiled a 50-27 overall record in those six years.
After his playing days at Ferris State University, Jones gained several years of experience as offensive coordinator at Wilkes University and then at his alma mater before heading to Central Michigan in an assistant role. He was promoted to offensive coordinator where he served for two seasons and then coached receivers under Rich Rodriguez at West Virginia for two years before taking the reins at CMU as head coach.
Jones has not coached previously in the SEC, but that was also the case for Les Miles before he took over as coach at LSU in 2005. Prior to taking the LSU job, Miles was 28-21 in four years at the helm at Oklahoma State, including a 16-16 mark in Big 12 play. Since then, Miles has led the Tigers to three division titles, two conference crowns and a national title in 2007.
Jones will now look to build his coaching staff and begin the turnaround to national prominence for Tennessee.