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Vols head coach Butch Jones is out at Tennessee. Here’s a look back at his time with the team.
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Tennessee football coach Butch Jones was fired on Sunday after five seasons with the Vols. Jones went 34-27 during his tenure, including a 14-24 record in the SEC. Athletic director John Currie promised an “exhaustive search” to find Jones’ replacement.

Here’s the latest on the coaching search.

What about Jon Gruden? 

The Gruden-to-Tennessee rumors have gone on for so many years that they have a name of their own: Grumors.

As expected, with the Tennessee job open, the Grumor mill is in full swing.

Gruden, when asked about the Tennessee opening on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike” on Wednesday morning, said “you never say never to nothing.”

The Chattanooga Times Free Press, citing sources, reported on Wednesday that Gruden has contacted some college assistants to gauge their interest in possibly joining him on a coaching staff.

Paul Finebaum, of the SEC Network and ESPN, said on his radio show Tuesday that one source close to Gruden told him that Gruden is not coming to Tennessee. 

Footballscoop.com addressed the Grumors on Tuesday with a report that stated “Gruden has no interest in being the next coach at Tennessee.”

Gruden, who coached in the NFL at Oakland and Tampa Bay, is an ESPN analyst.

Dan Mullen, Bobby Petrino field questions on job openings

Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen had been on the wish list for some Tennessee fans long before UT fired Jones. 

Mullen was asked Monday at his news conference how the attractiveness of the Tennessee job compares to the job he has.

“I love the one I have,” Mullen told reporters in Starkville.

More: Dan Mullen on Vols’ opening: ‘I have a great job’ at Mississippi State

More: Why not Jon Gruden? Or Dan Mullen? Or Scott Frost?

Additionally, the topic of job openings came up at Louisville coach Bobby Petrino’s Monday news conference.

“I don’t really worry about it,” Petrino said Monday, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. “I’ve just got to focus on what I can do. (Director of football operations Andy Wagner) was asking me something earlier today. I said, ‘I don’t even know that.’ “

Neither coach definitively stated they weren’t interested in Tennessee.

Mullen and Petrino are two of the 15 names off our coaching hot board.

Report states that an NFL assistant is of interest

The New York Daily News, citing sources, reported that Tennessee has interest in New York Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers.

Rodgers, a native of Humboldt, just north of Jackson, played linebacker/defensive end for the Vols from 1988-91. He’s in his third season as the Jets’ DC. The Jets rank 16th in the NFL in scoring defense.

Currie isn’t using a search firm

One of the more interesting comments from Currie’s news conference Sunday night was that he said he doesn’t plan to use a search firm at this time.

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That implies a couple things: One, Currie probably has been working on this search for a while, even though Jones wasn’t fired until Sunday. And two, Currie might already have a short list of candidates and feels good about his ability to nab one of them.

Who are names to watch?

As is typical during coaching searches, a lot of names will be thrown against the wall by various media outlets. Some will be linked to the Tennessee job. Rumors will rule the day.

More: Butch Jones’ replacement as Tennessee football coach: 15 names from Gruden to Gundy

Here are 15 names we think could come up during the search.

Who is the interim coach?

Currie named defensive line coach Brady Hoke the interim coach on Sunday. Hoke has previous head coaching experience at Michigan, San Diego State and Ball State.

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Brady Hoke gives his first press conference after he was appointed by athletic director John Currie as the Vols’ interim coach on Sunday after Tennessee fired Butch Jones.
Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel

Hoke promised some “tweaks” are coming as the Vols prepare for their final two regular-season games and vowed that the staff would give a good effort for the seniors.

What was the cost for firing Jones?

Jones was under contract through Feb. 28, 2021. Because he was fired without cause, he’s owed $8.26 million in buyout money, according to the separation agreement UT released. That buyout adheres to the language in Jones’ contract. Jones is required to seek comparable employment to mitigate the damages.

More: Butch Jones fired: What’s in football coach’s termination letter from Vols AD John Currie

The buyout will be paid in monthly installments until Jones’ contract was set to expire.

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