Butch Jones leaving Univ of Cincinnati for Tennessee - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

Butch Jones leaving UC for Tennessee

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

Butch Jones has resigned as head coach at the University of Cincinnati to take the job at the University of Tennessee.

Jones will not coach the Bearcats in the Belk Bowl against Duke on Dec. 27.

Steve Stripling, a 30-year coaching veteran who joined the UC staff in 2010 was named interim head coach. The 2012 Belk Bowl will mark the 23rd bowl game Stripling has played or coached in throughout his career. He led Central Michigan to a 44-41 double-overtime win over Troy in the 2010 GMAC Bowl. Stripling was the Bearcats Assistant Head Coach and defensive line coach. 

"UC is bigger than Butch Jones," said UC Director of Athletics Whit Babcock during a press conference Friday morning.

Babcock said there is a slight chance a new coach will be hired before the Belk Bowl.

Players had mixed emotions to Jones' news. Senior wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins said he felt good and bad.

"I felt good for him because he's a great guy and a great coach," said Thompkins. "I felt bad for the young guys. Coach Jones recruited them to play for him and now he's going to another school."

Junior wide receiver Anthony McClung said the meeting was emotional.

"He basically expressed himself to us. We felt bad for him, we love him, but he has to do what's best for him and his family and we have to move forward," said McClung.

University of Cincinnati President Dr. Santa Ono tweeted Friday morning, "#BearcatNation we are bigger than any one person and I will make sure we continue to compete at the highest level. I have your back. UC is a great university with a proud history in sports. I promise you that statement will ring true well into the future."

Babcock said Jones informed him at 5:15 Friday morning that he had accepted the job at UT. 

"Now is the time for our fans to stick with us," said Babcock.

Jones pulled his name from consideration for the Colorado job on Thursday morning. Not long after that, Babcock said he received an offer from Tennessee. Babcock gave him 24 hours to make a decision.

Babcock said the university had been in talks for a new contract for Jones. On Ono's second day in office, he met with Babcock about the direction of the athletic programs and they had a goal to keep Jones at UC. In the middle of the season, Babcock told Jones, "You're our guy," and that they were committed to keeping him as head coach.

After the South Florida game, at least five schools expressed interest in Jones. Babcock and Jones talked about the pros and cons of each school, and Jones said he wanted to look at Purdue and Colorado.

Jones will be introduced as the Vols new coach at 2:30 p.m. Friday afternoon at Neyland Stadium.

Jones will replace Derek Dooley, who was fired on Nov. 18. The Vols pursued Louisville coach Charlie Strong, who elected to stay with the Cardinals.

Jones led UC for three years, leading the Bearcats to two conference championships. In each of the last two seasons, he has been honored as the Big East Coach of the Year. In six seasons as a head coach, he has led his teams to four conference titles. He has a career record of 50-27.

Jones, who changed his Twitter handle to @UTCoachJones on Friday morning, tweeted, "It is truly an honor and a privilege to be a part of the Vol Nation!"

Copyright 2012 WXIX. All rights reserved.

 

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