If you thought the wild coaching carousel we witnessed in 2017 was a thing of the past, you were wrong. Not even a week into the new year and already a head coaching position is open, this time in Arizona.
On Tuesday night, amid several conflicting reports, the University of Arizona announced that head coach Rich Rodriguez had been fired. While a couple of names that are still on the market have been mentioned, according to Sports Illustrated’s Bruce Feldman, one that will stand out to Tennessee fans is former head coach Butch Jones who was let go in November following a 50-17 loss to Missouri.
Would not be surprised if #Arizona AD Dave Heeke gives strong consideration to Butch Jones for the Zona HC vacancy. Heeke worked closely with him at CMU and have heard he loves Jones.— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) January 3, 2018
While Feldman also believes that former Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin, who was fired by the Aggies following the regular season, may also receive some consideration, it’s clear that a few connections with Arizona Athletic Director Dave Heeke could go a long way in Jones heading to Tucson following his five year stint in Knoxville.
After being hired away from Cincinnati in 2012, Jones complied a 34-27 overall record and a 14-24 mark in the SEC while at the helm at Tennessee. Despite having some of the most talented rosters in the conference in 2015 and 2016, Jones was not able to lead the Vols to an SEC East division crown. He was let go before the end of the 2017 season-a season where Tennessee began in the top 25 but failed to reach a bowl for the fourth time in the last decade.
Jones’ current buyout with Tennessee is $8,257,580, but that number would be reduced if he is hired by another school.