University of Tennessee Athletic Director John Currie says an "exhaustive search" will be launched to find the school's next head football coach.
Former coach Butch Jones was fired Sunday morning, after a 50-17 loss to Missouri on Veterans Day and a lackluster 2017 season. In five seasons with the Vols, Jones had a winning record and three bowl victories, but a 14-24 record within the SEC. Defensive line coach Brady Hoke has been named to lead the team through the final two games of the regular season.
Buying out the remainder of Jones' contract will cost the university about $8.5 million dollars. "We understand that's a significant investment," Currie told reporters at a press conference Sunday evening. "But we have the ability to manage that without affecting our day-to-day operations."
Local media reports indicated Jones contacted students committed to UT on Sunday, telling them to avoid the school and hinting at possible positions wherever he may be hired next. Currie called the reports speculative and said he trusted Jones' character. Three recruits took to Twitter to announce they would not join the Vols.
Last week, much-vaunted offensive line prospect Cade Mays decommitted, a decision considered a blow to Jones and the Volunteers' recruiting efforts for the 2018 season. On November 1, "Vol for Life" program coordinator Atone Davis resigned. He later said Jones created a hostile work environment. Those allegations did not affect the decision to fire Jones or its timing, Currie said Sunday.
Whoever succeeds Butch Jones will be UT's sixth coach in a dozen years. Currie said that rate of turnover isn't optimal, but that the days of lengthy coaching tenures "just don't exist anymore."