Tennessee introduced former Cincinnati coach Butch Jones on Friday as its successor to Derek Dooley, who was fired Nov. 18 after going 15-21 in three seasons.
It hardly mattered to Jones that he wasn’t Tennessee’s first choice.
“I think I was my wife’s third choice, and it’s worked for 20 years,” Jones said.
Jones, 44, has a 50-27 record in six seasons as a head coach. He went 27-13 in three seasons at Central Michigan and was 23-14 at Cincinnati the last three years.
Jones agreed to a six-year contract worth $18.2 million, ending a tumultuous couple of days for himself and his new school. Colorado had offered him a five-year deal worth at least $13.5 million.
Tennessee went after at least two other candidates before hiring Jones.
During the 19-day search to replace Dooley, the Volunteers contacted ESPN analyst and former Super Bowl-winning coach Jon Gruden, who indicated he wasn’t interested. The Vols then pursued Charlie Strong, who said Thursday he had turned down their offer and would stay at Louisville.
“Rarely in life is anything exactly what it seems to be,” Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart said. “Life doesn’t throw us all fastballs. It throws us curves, and then you’ve got some screwballs. … You’ve got to be able to adjust.”
GESSER OUT AT IDAHO
New Idaho football coach Paul Petrino elected not to retain former Washington State quarterback Jason Gesser as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, but the Vandals will continue to have a Cougars presence.
Ronnie Lee, a WSU defensive back in the late 1980s, is expected to be named defensive coordinator of the Vandals. No official announcement has been made by Idaho, but an Indiana State spokesperson confirmed that Lee has signed on with the Vandals.
Lee returns to Idaho (he coached the Vandals’ defensive backs in 1992) from Indiana State, where he coached running backs and special teams. Lee is a former Minnesota co-defensive coordinator and San Jose State defensive coordinator.
MONTANA STATE ROUTED
Brian Bell threw for 254 yards and three touchdowns, and Sam Houston State cruised to a 34-16 FCS quarterfinal win over Montana State in Bozeman, Mont.
The Bearkats (10-3) took advantage of Jon Ellis’ fumble on a first-down reception to take control of the game late in the third quarter. MSU (11-2) had cut SHSU’s lead to 20-9 on its first drive of the second half only to see the turnover set up a touchdown pass from Bell to Chance Nelson giving SHSU a 27-9 lead.
Sam Houston will face the winner between Eastern Washington and Illinois State.
New Auburn coach Gus Malzahn introduced Rhett Lashlee as offensive coordinator and Ellis Johnson as defensive coordinator at a news conference three days after his hiring. Lashlee will make $350,000 a year while Johnson received an $800,000 salary, though Auburn hasn’t released the lengths of their deals or other terms. … Thousands of fans gathered at St. John Arena on Friday to honor No. 3 Ohio State for its perfect season, waving signs that read “12-OH” and chanting for coach Urban Meyer. Following a performance by the Ohio State marching band, the players and coaches joined the celebration and received a standing ovation from the estimated crowd of 7,000.Writer Howie Stalwick contributed to this report