KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s lack of financial support for Butch Jones during the previous offseason was noted by at least one FBS coaching candidate.
Jones’ assistant coaches’ salary pool was capped during the search for a new offensive coordinator, and the administration would not approve a request to add a quality control assistant from an NFL staff, sources told SEC Country.
“When your administration starts saying ‘No’ to you, that’s a sign,” the candidate told SEC Country on Thursday, when asked about the interest in the Tennessee job. “They essentially cut Butch’s legs out from under him by not giving him the money to hire who they needed.
“With the juniors he lost to the draft, they probably knew he’d be gone after this season.”
Jones didn’t say anything negative publicly about the previous athletic administration — chancellor Jimmy Cheek and former athletic director Dave Hart — leading up to his firing on Nov. 12 with two games left in the season.
“They essentially cut Butch’s legs out from under him by not giving him the money to hire who they needed.”
Jones promoted Larry Scott from tight ends coach to offensive coordinator after the Vols’ set school single-season offensive records for points and touchdowns during a 9-4 campaign in 2016.
Many assumed Jones would pursue a more established name to be his offensive coordinator, but he instead promoted Scott from within, paying him $650,000 to replace departed offensive coordinator Mike DeBord.
“That (Scott’s $650,000 figure) is what the offensive coordinator salary was capped at,” said a former Tennessee administrator, perhaps explaining why Jones wasn’t able to pursue an experienced play caller.
By comparison, LSU hired Matt Canada as its offensive coordinator for $1.5 million, and Alabama hired Brian Daboll off the New England Patriots staff and paid him $1.2 million this season.
Scott’s salary would have ranked eighth among SEC offensive coordinators in 2016, according to the most recent data collected by USA Today.
A Baton Rouge Advocate story and graphic showed that the source’s account is in line with how Tennessee football spending compared to other schools in 2015-16.
Alabama, which employs several quality control coaches and recruiting assistants, spent $56.1 million in expenses, while the Vols ranked eighth in the SEC in spending on expenses at $29 million.
Tennessee’s next head coach will likely seek assurances from the school relating to recruiting budget, facilities spending and a salary pool for assistant coaches, in addition to his own salary. Vols athletic director John Currie, who is spearheading the coaching search along with booster Jimmy Haslam, has said Tennessee will raise $340,000 million to renovate Neyland Stadium by 2021.
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