The Butch Jones era featured several euphoric wins but too many heartbreaking losses. The report originated with Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated.
Both coaches will latch on somewhere else during the offseason, but probably not as a head coach, and definitely not at a powerhouse program. But the Volunteers were ranked to begin the season, albeit at No. 25. His overall head coaching record is 148-78 and was 11-2 in his first season at MI. Three times opponents have scored 40-plus points. Beginning conference play with a loss to rival Florida was certainly disappointing, but the Vols followed that up by barely beating UMass at home.
Some reports suggested Jones was given the option of coaching out the remainder of the season, only to have Jones turn down the offer. I want to make clear that we are intensely committed to hiring the best coach of Tennessee. The Vols followed up that Georgia defeat by losing four of their next five games. But the Vols were crushed, 45-7. An inexplicable loss at SC a year ago ruined Tennessee's division title hopes. Hoke was serving as the defensive line coach at Tennessee and was the head coach at MI before Jim Harbaugh. Jones has already informed his staff of his firing and meet with players around 1 p.m.
What did Jones tell him? Other than the dreaded "lack of institutional control", what greater sign could there be that a coach needs to be fired?
Jones won 11 straight games spanning parts of the 2015 and '16 seasons.
However, Jones was never able to take UT back to the SEC Championship game. All four of those goals seem now far out of reach, which obviously isn't the objective in Knoxville.
Defensive line assistant Brady Hoke will assume the interim head coach responsibilities for the Vols. He can certainly provide a steadying hand, drawing on previous head coaching experience at Ball State, San Diego State and MI.
It appears Hoke is only being considered as a temporary solution; the Volunteers will limp through the rest of the season and try to find a high profile coach in the offseason.
Hoke has 12 years of experience as a head coach, most recently at MI from 2011-14.
However, Jones did help produce nine National Football League draft picks during his Tennessee tenure and his players collected 18 All-SEC awards and 108 received SEC Academic Honor Roll honors. He will surely land elsewhere, having had success in previous stops at Central Michigan and Cincinnati.
The Vols are now set to host LSU on Saturday, Nov. 18.
The storied program was guided by two head coaches for 32 years - John Majors and Phillip Fulmer. Finding the right guy has been hard, and there will be intense pressure to get it right this next time.