“So, who you gonna get?”
That’s the most common question detractors of Butch Jones face when they say it’s time to replace the fifth-year Tennessee coach. The question of Jones’ replacement is a reasonable concern if the Vols decide to make a change. Things didn’t go well the last time UT had to find a new coach. But things should be different this time around.
Former UT coach Derek Dooley left the Vols in shambles. The Vols were on the verge of facing NCAA sanctions because of a poor APR and the roster was closer to UMass’ than Alabama’s.
If UT decides to replace Jones, here are some candidates the Vols should consider:
The home runs: These candidates would immediately elevate UT’s program
Fuente would be expensive. He recently signed a contract extension with Virginia Tech that will pay him $4 million per season by 2023. He makes $3.25 million this season, but his buyout – $6 million – is awfully steep.
Kelly had great success at Oregon before flaming out in the NFL. He also had NCAA problems at Oregon. He may be tough to get because most think he wants to coach in the northwest, but he’s worth a shot, especially since he’s currently doing TV work.
He’s a solid, perhaps great, offensive coach and can develop quarterbacks. He’s made Mississippi State relevant, which isn’t easy to do. He also had great success as a coordinator at Florida and Utah.
Petrino has a steep buyout, reportedly $4 million if athletic director Tom Jurich is fired, which seems to be inevitable. The buyout would be $8 million if Jurich remains as AD. But with serious allegations concerning Louisville’s basketball program, it looks as if Jurich is on the way out. He’s currently on administrative leave. Petrino is a proven coach. Any program that hired him would have to look past the infamous motorcycle/volleyball player incident. But what coach is perfect?
Stoops recently said he would have stayed at Oklahoma had he wanted to coach in college. I tend to believe him. But some think he’s positioning himself for a possible Notre Dame vacancy or an NFL position. This would be a reach for the Vols, but Stoops is worth reaching out to.
More than adequate: These candidates are established coordinators or up-and-coming young coaches
Brohm is an offense-minded coach who won at least 10 games in each of his final two seasons at Western Kentucky. He’s off to a 2-2 start at Purdue this season. Brohm doesn’t have a long résumé, though.
Jim Bob Cooter
Cooter is a Tennessee native and a former UT player and graduate assistant. Currently the offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions, Cooter is a rising star in the coaching world.
Fleck had success at Western Michigan and is having early success in his first season at Minnesota. He’s a coach on the rise, but it may be a bit too soon to take a gamble on his short résumé.
The former UT quarterback is the offensive coordinator at USC and is known as an excellent recruiter, especially in the southeast. It’s unclear just how much input he has at USC, considering coach Clay Helton also has an offensive background. Martin never has been a head coach.
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