Well, it finally happened. After weeks of speculation regarding the future of head football coach Butch Jones, Tennessee athletic director John Currie did what many members of the Vol Nation had been wanting. He fired Coach Butch Jones. After all, a 50-17 loss at Missouri doesn't get you a contract extension. Neither does an 0-6 start in SEC play which the Vols now have. And following just two head coaches in a 32-year period, (Majors and Fulmer) Tennessee will soon be hiring a head coach for the fourth time in nine years.
Butch Jones was given an opportunity to coach the Vols in their final two games of the season but he declined.
That chore on an interim basis now belongs to former Michigan head coach Brady Hoke who has spent this season coaching the team's defensive line. Both remaining games are at home beginning with LSU and ending with Vanderbilt the following weekend. Tennessee must win both games to finish 6-6 and qualify for a bowl game, though that is not a likely scenario.
So now the search is officially underway to hire the next guy who will be the "caretaker of Tennessee football." That's a direct quote from Butch Jones by the way. Just like "Champions of Life" and "Brick by brick." Who that person will be is anybody's guess right now. John Currie has very likely had a few people in mind for several weeks now but he's not telling anyone and he doesn't plan to make any comments publicly about the hire until the press conference announcing who it will be.
I have written and spoken about who I think should become the next head Vol. Tennessee should look no further than Starkville, Mississippi to find their new guy. Dan Mullen has drawn the interest of several schools including Florida and he is headed somewhere next season......it's just a matter of where. It may as well be Knoxville. Mullen isn't the only good choice that Currie could make. He could also hire UCF's Scott Frost or even Iowa State's Matt Campbell. Either one of those guys would make a great choice.
Tennessee is a great job to have in college football. It is potentially a top-ten position, though like Vol teams over the last decade, it hasn't really met that potential. UT has first class facilities, a huge and passionate fan base and a recruiting budget that surpasses every other school in the SEC, including Alabama. It would be a dream job for any coach not named Saban or Meyer. John Currie simply has to find the right guy.
The right guy is out there. A good young coach with a great mind and attitude toward recruiting who doesn't mind working 350 out of 365 days a year. A coach who can be as passionate about the game of football as his fan base would be, and a coach who can take the pressure of coaching in the SEC week after week. Finding that right guy will be quite a challenge. Good luck John Currie. You'll need it.
Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for 30 years. He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga television for more than a quarter-century. In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith. They have five grandchildren, Coleman, Boone, Mattingly, DellaMae, and CoraLee.