Butch Jones' name has surfaced as a possible candidate for Tennessee's head coaching job.

9:09 AM, Dec 7, 2012   |    comments
Courtesy: USA Today Sports
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UT Athletics Director Dave Hart interviewed Butch Jones for the football coaching job somewhere in Kentucky Thursday night, according to Volquest.com. 

There has been no definitive word about whether Hart offered the job to Jones or whether Hart interviewed other candidates Thursday.

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By Bill Koch

Cincinnati Enquirer

University of Cincinnati football coach Butch Jones withdrew his name from consideration for the head coaching job at Colorado, UC sports information contact Ryan Koslen said Thursday.

But neither Jones nor UC athletic director Whit Babcock returned numerous calls seeking confirmation as of late Thursday afternoon, nor has UC made any official announcement that Jones has decided to stay.

ESPN, which also reported that Jones turned down the Colorado job, reported that Jones has surfaced along with Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart as candidates for the vacant head coaching job at Tennessee after Louisville coach Charlie Strong turned down the Vols' offer. Jones has also been mentioned as a possible candidate at Wisconsin.

A source within the UC program said that a team meeting has been called for Friday at 7:30 a.m, but didn't specify the reason for the meeting.

The Denver Post reported Wednesday that Jones had accepted the Colorado job, prompting Jones to issue a vehement denial. He reportedly turned down an offer of $13.5 million over five years. Jones met with Colorado officials in Boulder on Monday.

UC is trying to keep Jones from becoming the third straight UC coach to leave after three years, following Mark Dantonio's departure for Michigan State after the 2006 season and Brian Kelly's departure for Notre Dame after the 2009 season.

Babcock said last week that he would "like stop this revolving door of coaches leaving." The UC athletic director met with Babcock on Wednesday before Jones flew to Charlotte for a press conference promoting the Bearcats' Dec. 27 appearance in the Belk Bowl vs. Duke.

Under Jones, UC has gone 23-14, with a win last year over Vanderbilt in the Liberty Bowl. The Bearcats won a three-way share of the Big East championship in 2011 and a four-way share this season. They will play Duke in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte on Dec. 27. UC was 4-8 in Jones' first season in 2010.

Jones has been in discussions with UC to re-do his contract, including an assurance that Nippert Stadium would be renovated, although it's not known where that money - estimated at $60 million to $70 million by University Architect Beth McGrew - would come from.

UC extended Jones' contract through 2017 at the end of last season after he reportedly turned down overtures from Illinois, North Carolina and UCLA. His new contract increased his guaranteed annual compensation from $1.1 million to $1.575 million, with annual increases through 2017 when he would be paid $2.05 million in the final year of his contract. The contract includes a $1.4-million buyout if he leaves UC before Jan. 1, 2013.

"I think I've proven that I want to be here," Jones said last year after he agreed to the new contract. "This is a very special place. We're building something really special here. I ask our players to make a commitment and I need to make a commitment back."

Jones' departure would be another blow to the UC athletic department, which last week learned that its attempts to leave the wobbly Big East Conference for the Atlantic Coast Conference had been rebuffed, with the ACC choosing to invite long-time UC rival Louisville instead. That left the Bearcats to compete in a league that has lost its status as one of the top six football conferences in the country and with no automatic tie-in to a major bowl game when the current BCS contract expires at the end of next season.

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