Report: Rutgers interviews former Tennessee coach Butch Jones for opening

Ben WeinribYahoo Sports Contributor
Former Tennessee head coach and current Alabama analyst Butch Jones reportedly interviewed for the Rutgers job. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
Former Tennessee head coach and current Alabama analyst Butch Jones reportedly interviewed for the Rutgers job. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

After firing head coach Chris Ash three games into the season, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights are ramping up their pursuit of his replacement, starting with a notable former Power Five coach.

According to a report from NJ.com's James Kratch, Rutgers brought in former Tennessee Volunteers head coach Butch Jones for its first interview. Since his firing in Knoxville, Jones has been an offensive analyst at Alabama.

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The connection is not necessarily surprising considering Rivals reported in September than Jones had interest in the Rutgers job.

To many Power Five schools, Jones may not be a huge hire. He flamed out at Tennessee and was fired after going winless in SEC play in 2017, not meeting the high expectations of hungry UT fans after hauling in top-15 recruiting classes. However, Rutgers is no ordinary Power Five School.

Rutgers hasn’t cracked four wins since 2014, its first season in the Big Ten. The school made nine bowl games in 10 years before that stretch, but most of that success came in the Big East, where they got to face much easier opponents.

Jones has a track record of success at smaller schools, as he had a 27-13 record at Central Michigan and a 23-14 record at Cincinnati. He brought both programs into the AP Top 25 and sent the teams to a pair of bowl games each in his three seasons at each stop.

Jones has been trying to rehabilitate his coaching image — and have people forget his “championship of life” comments — under Nick Saban, à la Lane Kiffin. Rutgers may only be a stepping stone for Jones to return to a bigger job, but if Rutgers gets better in the process, it would surely be worth it.

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