It's been rumored for weeks that Vols football coach Butch Jones would be on the outs.
Tennessee last won an SEC championship in 1998, the same year the Vols won the national championship with an unbeaten 13-0 record.
Now, the Vols are looking for a fourth head coach since 2009. But the Volunteers were ranked to begin the season, albeit at No. 25. Three times opponents have scored 40-plus points. Tennessee lost at Vanderbilt later that week, and the "champions of life" remark turned into an internet meme.
Jones took over Tennessee in 2013 as Derek Dooley's replacement.
Hoke has a 78-70 combined record as a head coach, and he went 11-2 and reached the Sugar Bowl in his first year at MI. The Vols followed up that Georgia defeat by losing four of their next five games. But the Vols were crushed, 45-7. But down the stretch the Vols went 3-4 to close out the regular season, with a loss to SC off the bye week that ended chances of making it to the SEC Championship Game.
Jones was sacked on Sunday morning, and by midday, Tennessee Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletic John Currine made it official. The Volunteers showed some fight early on in the game, but looked completely lackluster in the second half Saturday night, getting outscored 26-0 in the second half. After a team meeting, the school released its statement. "I know Coach Jones will be successful moving forward, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors".
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The sudden decline has been shocking. That placed Tennessee 0-6 in the conference and 4-6 overall. A turnaround and return to contention among the top teams in the SEC seemed imminent.
Under Jones, the Vols didn't achieve the success they experienced in the 1990s. But during an injury-plagued 2016 season, the Vols were unable to capitalize on early season wins over Florida and Georgia and lost games to SC and Vanderbilt late in the season to squander a chance to play in their first SEC championship game since 2007, Phillip Fulmer's next-to-last season. All four of those goals seem now far out of reach, which obviously isn't the objective in Knoxville.
Defensive line coach Brady Hoke, the former head coach at MI, will serve as UT's interim coach for the remainder of the season. He coached three seasons each at Central Michigan and Cincinnati before coming to Tennessee.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron has experience as an interim coach.
ESPN's Chris Low was the first to report Hoke as the interim coach. Jones has gone 34-27 during his Tennessee tenure and is 14-24 in the SEC.
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