John Currie says he didn’t decide until after Mizzou loss to fire Butch Jones

Tennessee AD John Currie
Wade Payne/Knoxville News Sentinel via USA TODAY Sports

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee athletic director John Currie said he decided “late last (Saturday) night” after the Vols’ blowout loss to Missouri that it was time to make a coaching change.

“It was the best decision for all concerned,” Currie said at a news conference Sunday to officially announce that Butch Jones had been fired.

Currie said he wanted Jones and his family to be “treated with the dignity they deserve. … None of us want to be in this position, but we are in this position.”

The position is ugly, to say the least. After Tennessee’s 50-17 loss at Missouri, the Vols fell to 4-6 overall and 0-6 in the SEC (the Vols never have gone winless in the SEC). The run defense ranks among the nation’s worst at 256.9 yards per game and the offense, which went 15 quarters without scoring a touchdown last month, ranks among the bottom four in four major SEC offensive categories.

RELATED: Tennessee loses 3 commitments, including touted WR Alontae Taylor

The bottom line for Currie?

“We’re standing here right now because we haven’t won enough,” he said.

Jones was 34-27 overall but only 14-24 in SEC play.

Jones will be paid a buyout of roughly $8.25 million in monthly installments until February 28, 2021. The first payment will be on or about November 30.

A release from UT noted Jones’ obligation to use “reasonable and diligent efforts” to find other employment to mitigate what UT owes. While not specified in the release, the same holds true for the 10 full-time assistants (including the strength and conditioning coach) who are owed a combined $6 million. That would total about $14 million, with those dollars mitigated if the coaches got other jobs in the profession.

Currie tabbed first-year defensive line coach Brady Hoke as the interim. Currie said he picked Hoke because he has been a coach of the year in three conferences.

Currie said he believed in Jones’ integrity not to pursue recruits committed to Tennessee. One Tennessee commitment, three-star cornerback Tanner Ingle of Orlando, told the Orlando Sentinel that Jones told him to find another place “quickly” and that if Jones got another job, he would contact Ingle. Another way to look at it: Ingle is not a highly rated prospect and Jones might feel UT’s new coach would not offer Ingle.

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