The search for the next head coach of the University of Tennessee football team is over.
Shortly after lunch Friday, Butch Jones became the new leader of the Volunteers, taking over for Derek Dooley after athletic director Dave Hart searched for 19 days.
Jones, who has coached at Central Michigan and Cincinnati, called the UT position his “dream job,” at his opening press conference.
While Jones may be living the dream, the hire was viewed as a nightmare for many Vol faithful.
Tennessee swung and missed at the biggest fish, Super Bowl winner and current ESPN analyst Jon Gruden, and smaller fish like Louisville coach Charlie Strong and Oklahoma State head man Mike Gundy.
Reports came out that money wasn’t an issue when attracting a coach - UT reportedly offered Strong a salary starting at $4 million a year - so why exactly did the Vols have to settle on a coach most view as the school’s fifth or sixth choice?
Other SEC schools had little trouble attracting a coach. Before Wisconsin could finish celebrating its third Rose Bowl berth, Arkansas had hired away Badger head coach Bret Bielema. Auburn brought back Gus Malzahn, the architect of the offense that led the Tigers to the 2009 National Championship. Even Kentucky took less time in hiring former Arizona head coach Mike Stoops.
Hart set out looking for a guy who won at every stop and has overseen a successful rebuilding project. Jones does fit the profile that Hart listed.
Jones brought up multiple times that his teams have won four conference championships in six years. He brings an overall record of 50-27 to Knoxville.
The toughest task Jones faces is he didn’t fit the requirements most of the fanbase had for the next coach.
Fans wanted a head coach to unify the program, a guy who instantly would have respect across the board.
Jones will face constant scrutiny and skepticism until he wins a big game at UT, something his predecessor never did.
Right now, Jones won over half the fans in Tennessee because he was the only person who would say yes. Too bad the rest of the fanbase was heard groaning “NOOOOOOO!” when he was hired.
Time will tell which side was right.