The University of Tennessee announced on Dec. 7, 2012 the hiring of Butch Jones as the 24th head football coach of the Vols. Jones owns a 55-34 record (.618) in seven seasons as a head coach, and his teams have earned bowl appearances in five of his seven seasons as a head coach. Jones is 34-18 (.654) in conference play and both 44-2 when leading at halftime and 45-3 when leading after three quarters. Jones joined UT from the University of Cincinnati, where he finished with a 23-14 record (.657) in three seasons with the Bearcats.
In his first season on Rocky Top, the Vols defeated No. 11/9 South Carolina, the first win for UT over a ranked opponent since 2009. Tennessee also rushed for 2,261 yards, the most for the Vols since 2004 and their second-highest total since 1999. The Vols' opportunistic defense in 2013 forced 25 turnovers, tied for the second-most by a UT defense since 2005. UT also played the toughest schedule in the nation in 2013, including seven ranked teams.
Jones and his staff have been relentless on the recruiting trail since arriving in Knoxville. In February 2014, Tennessee signed a consensus top 10 recruiting class that was ranked as high as top five by most media outlets. Jones has prioritized the state of Tennessee in his recruiting efforts, and the recent class featured the overwhelming majority of the top talent in the state of Tennessee signing with the Vols.
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. Jones has also finished the season ranked in the top 25 in three of the last four seasons (2009 with Central Michigan and 2011 and 2012 at Cincinnati).
Jones has won four conference championships in his seven 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 in 2012, a year in which the 2012 Cincinnati squad captured its second consecutive bowl victory while also finishing with a top 25 ranking. The Bearcats finished the regular season 9-3 with a 5-2 record in the Big East to share the conference crown.
A staple of Jones's programs has been success in the classroom, and that has certainly continued during his time at Tennessee.. The Vols also recorded an exemplary performance in the classroom, posting the highest GPA for a Spring semester in program history and the second-highest GPA in UT annals during a Fall semester since sport-by-sport data began to be recorded in 2003. The team also posted the best APR scores in program history in both semesters, including a perfect 1000 score in Spring 2013 and no eligibility points lost in either semester.
A total of 46 players posted a 3.0 GPA in Spring 2013, with 40 accomplishing this during the season in the Fall 2013 semester. Additionally, of the 24 student-athletes in the senior class during the 2013 season, 23 either already have their degree or are on track to do so by December 2014 (96%).
In 2011, Cincinnati was 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).
Additionally, Jones ranks second among all coaches of NCAA FBS programs in turnovers forced over the last three seasons since 2011 with 86 during that time span. Jones' teams have won 20 games that were within four points at the half, tied for second among all coaches since 2007 and trailing only Frank Beamer's 21.
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.
Cincinnati placed eight players on the All-Big East Conference team from 2011-12, 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 he 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.
In addition to coaching Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Bowl receiver Antonio Brown at Central Michigan, one of Jones' players while coaching the Chippewas, offensive lineman Eric Fisher, was drafted No. 1 overall in the 2013 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. Jones recruited Fisher to join the CMU 2009 where he went on to a decorated career. Joining Fisher in Kansas City was another Jones product, Travis Kelce who was selected in the third round after playing at Cincinnati.
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 1993-94 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 (17), Adam (12), and Andrew (7).