The embattled fifth-year Tennessee head coach was reportedly relieved of duties on Sunday, according to Bruce Feldman, as the Vols' miserable 2017 carried on with a 50-17 loss to the Tigers. After arriving from Cincinnati in 2013, Jones went 12-13 in his first two years before winning nine games apiece in 2015 and 2016. However, no SEC East titles — during a period in which the division was among the weakest in the Power Five — and failure to win big games were the tipping point.
The Vols are now embarking on their fourth head coaching search since 2008. Here are some possible candidates to replace Butch Jones.
Current Position: Head Coach – Syracuse
For most college football fans, Dino Babers was not a household name before Syracuse's upset of Clemson. The second-year Orange head coach has made 15 coaching stops since 1984 and spent the previous fours years leading Bowling Green and Eastern Illinois.
Best known as an Art Briles' disciple, he coached Baylor's receivers and helped transform the Bears into a national title contender. He went a modest 4-8 in his first season but dramatically altered the culture of the program, partly thanks to a high-flying, fast-paced offense that routinely tops 80 plays per game.
Even with the Clemson win, this is not a sexy hire but is a realistic one.
Current Position: N/A
Yes, Fulmer has to be included. Who cares that he's 67 years old and nearly a decade removed from coaching.
The Tennessee alum and former assistant and head coach, who went 152-52 from 1992-2008, was mistakenly fired after a 5-7 season, his only sub-.500 mark in 17 years. He is still only 66 years old and beloved by fans and key stakeholders, some of whom have repeatedly expressed their anger for his force-out eight years ago.
Current Position: Head Coach – UTSA
"Who?" will say many Tennessee fans who don't remember Frank Wilson's six-year run at LSU or one-year stint on Lane Kiffin's staff at Tennessee.
The 43-year-old second-year UTSA coach coached the Vols' receivers in 2009 before serving in a variety of positions in Baton Rouge. He went 6-7 in 2016 and is now 5-4 in 2017.
Like Babers, he's not the sexy or big-name hire fans will be seeking but with Butch Jones' gigantic buyout, affordability might be a legitimate concern.
Current Position: Head Coach – UCF
Everyone assumes Scott Frost will replace Mike Riley at Nebraska, his alma mater.
What if the Huskers — for whatever bizarre reason — don't fire Riley this year or Frost prefer a different job? Fans hate to hear it but sometimes coaches aren't itching to lead their alma mater.
The 42-year-old has worked wonders in just two seasons at UCF, taking the Knights from a winless 2015 to six wins in 2016 and a strong start this year. He's a revered offensive mind who can make the Tennessee offense operate more smoothly than a Pop Warner team.
Current Position: Head Coach – Memphis
Memphis' blowout loss to UCF slowed the Mike Norvell hype train but the Tigers' second-year head coach is still in line for a big promotion.
Would he be interested in moving 400 miles to Knoxville?