Butch Jones may not even last the rest of this season at Tennessee with how his team is playing. The Volunteers are 3-4 and are on a three-game losing streak. Tennessee just lost to No. 1 Alabama 45-7, and two games ago the Vols lost to No. 7 Georgia in an absolutely embarrassing blowout, 41-0.
The hot seat talk for Jones has become normal and it seems all but guaranteed that he’ll be fired, so naturally, the conversation has shifted a bit to his potential replacement.
A young, up-and-coming coach may be a good fit for Tennessee, but that’s what the Vols did last time around with Jones. So how about an old veteran who knows the ropes and can command respect in the SEC from day one? According to Tennessee beat writer Mike Griffith, who was speaking with Paul Finebaum recently, there is one coach who would fit that bill for Tennessee, and he’s actually a former Volunteer coach: David Cutcliffe.
“The only coach out there that I can see that kind of checks all the boxes for Tennessee — if you go down that road if you think that Butch Jones and Tennessee are going to lose another football game or if you think that there’s going to be enough people that don’t show up for football games — is David Cutcliffe. He would be the guy that I think everyone would sign off on. A proven winner. You could double his salary. He comes back to Knoxville to finish a job that he really wasn’t able to finish in ’98. “
Cutcliffe is currently the head coach at Duke, a program he’s been in charge of since 2008. He’s kept the Blue Devils pretty competitive from time-to-time, though he does currently have a 56-65 overall record, and as mentioned above, he is a former Tennessee coach.
Cutcliffe won the head coaching job at Ole Miss back in 1998, but that was mainly because of the good job he did as an assistant coach at Tennessee, a stint that saw him help lead the Vols to five SEC titles, 16 bowl game appearances and a national championship in 1998. He coached players like Andy Kelly and Peyton Manning, and he was the assistant head coach for his last four seasons in Knoxville.
He hasn’t necessarily lit the world on fire at Duke, but that’s a basketball school and it’s worth noting that he went 44-29 in seven seasons at Ole Miss.
Cutcliffe is respected, well-traveled and he is an SEC guy at heart — born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama (he went to school at Alabama) — so perhaps he would be a good fit for Tennessee.
At this point, most fans likely think anybody would be an upgrade.