Butch Jones out as Tennessee's head coach, search for replacement underway

After reports of Butch Jones' exit as Tennessee's coach surfaced Sunday morning, the school announced  a "coaching transition" that confirmed the fifth-year Vols' coach is out, effective immediately. 

"We have been fortunate to have Coach Jones lead our program for the last five years. During that time, the program has improved tremendously in the areas of academics, discipline and community involvement," athletic director John Currie said in a statement. 
"Unfortunately, we are not where we need to be competitively. For that reason, I have asked Coach Jones to step down as head football coach. I know Coach Jones will be successful moving forward, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors."

The Vols were blown out 50-17 by Missouri on Saturday and then Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman reported early Sunday that Jones informed his staff that he had been fired. After a team meeting, the school released its statement. Former Michigan coach Brady Hoke, a recent addition to Jones' staff, has been named the interim coach. 

There are two games left on Tennessee's schedule -- LSU and Vanderbilt -- but the Vols remain without a conference win this season. They have also lost their last game against each of the other 13 teams in the SEC dating back to 2011. Jones was reportedly given the opportunity to coach those final two games, but declined.

Jones is officially under contract through Feb. 28, 2021, and according to the USA Today coaches' contract database, the cost of letting Jones and all of his assistants go at the end of the season could add up to about $13.9 million. Ever since back-to-back home losses to Georgia and South Carolina earlier this season, it has seemed likely that Tennessee would move in a different direction at the end of the year. Now Tennessee can officially join rival Florida on the coaching carousel in the pursuit of its next coach.

Jones has gone 34-27 in five seasons with the Vols, including a 14-24 record in SEC play. Tennessee entered the 2017 season coming off back-to-back nine-win years and top-25 finishes but sits at just 4-6 with two games remaining in 2017. Jones went 3-0 in bowl games with the Vols.

For the latest on the Tennessee coaching search and fallout from Butch Jones' departure, visit GoVols247. They're on the ground in Knoxville covering recruit reaction, coaching prospects, and all the latest breaking news. Visit GoVols247 now!

CBS Sports Writer

Chip Patterson has spent his young career covering college sports from the Old North State. He's been writing and talking about football and basketball for CBS Sports since 2010. You may have heard him... Full Bio

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