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Arizona ‘doubtful’ to hire Butch Jones as head coach, per report

The former Tennessee coach may be out of the running even though he has ties to UA athletic director Dave Heeke

Tennessee v Missouri Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Former Tennessee Volunteers head coach Butch Jones is unlikely to be hired as the new head coach of the Arizona Wildcats, according to a report from Sports Illustrated's Bruce Feldman.

Feldman cites an anonymous source in Arizona’s athletic department, which claims it’s, “doubtful [Arizona athletic director Dave] Heeke would hire Jones now, given that he had worked under [former Arizona coach Rich] Rodriguez back at West Virginia, even though that was more than a decade ago.”

Jones was Rodriguez’s wide receivers coach at WVU from 2005-06.

Plenty of fans and reporters have linked Jones to the head coaching job in Tucson since Heeke, the former athletic director at Central Michigan, hired Jones at CMU back in 2007 where they worked together for a few years.

“Butch has all the skills to be a highly successful head coach,” Heeke said after hiring Jones at CMU. “We are fortunate to have someone here from an outstanding program like West Virginia,and his experience with one of the most successful spread offenses in the country will help further develop our offense.”

Jones was successful with the Chippewas, going 27-13 with two MAC titles in three seasons. Jones then went to Cincinnati, and turned it around quickly, finishing 23-14 after three years despite a 4-8 debut.

Jones then left for Tennessee before the 2013 season, where things didn’t go as planned. Despite slowly building the Volunteers into a solid 9-4 team in 2016, he fell far short of expectations in 2017, as Tennessee cratered to a 4-6 start before Jones’ dismissal.

The 49-year-old had a 34-27 record in five years in Knoxville.

Despite his reputation taking a major beating in his last season in Tennessee, it’s still possible Jones could land a job at another school in the next few years — that school just probably won’t be Arizona.