New Tennessee football coach Butch Jones says he's eager to roll up his sleeves and take over what he called "the best college football program in America."
The 44-year-old Jones said during his introductory news conference Friday that his team "will be a champion in everything we do."
Jones owns a 50-27 record in six seasons as a head coach, with five bowl appearances and four league championships to his credit.
He went 27-13 in three seasons at Central Michigan and has gone 23-14 at Cincinnati the last three years, including a 45-23 loss to Tennessee in September 2011.
He also led the Bearcats to back-to-back Big East titles and was named Big East coach of the year in 2011.
Now, Jones must rebuild a former SEC power that has posted three consecutive losing seasons.
Tennessee had been seeking a new coach since the Nov. 18 firing of Derek Dooley, who went 15-21 in three years. The Vols pursued Jones after getting rebuffed by ESPN analyst Jon Gruden and Louisville coach Charlie Strong.
Jones becomes Tennessee's fourth coach in a six-season stretch, not including offensive coordinator Jim Chaney's stint as interim head coach in the 2012 season finale after Dooley's dismissal. Phillip Fulmer was fired in 2008 after posting a 152-52 record. Kiffin coached Tennessee in 2009 before leaving for Southern California. Dooley lasted three years.
After winning at least eight games for 16 consecutive seasons from 1989-2004 and posting double-digit win totals in nine of those years, Tennessee hasn't earned more than seven victories in any of its last five seasons.
Search kept Vols fans guessing
Fans and alumni of the University of Tennessee are on edge as the Vols football program continues to search for a head coach to replace Derek Dooley.
On Thursday morning, Louisville head coach Charlie Strong held a news conference to officially decline an offer to coach the Vols. That follows previous speculation Athletic Director Dave Hart targeted Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy and ESPN analyst John Gruden, a former NFL head coach.
In the age of social media, rumors and discussion about the job seem to change by the second. While some of the talk is accurate, the chatter gets louder and louder as many fans grow more impatient.
Nashville sports radio personalities Brent Dougherty and Clay Travis have seemingly heard it all from fans on their show, 3HL, on 104.5-FM The Zone.
"Insanity, bedlam, cacophony of nothing. That's what it's been so far," Travis said.
Their Twitter feeds have been rife with rumors as well.
"It's difficult to figure out exactly what's true and what's false, and Twitter is great for getting information out. But it's also great for getting out misinformation," Travis said.
With almost $4 million a year on the table for the top leading coaching candidates, it can be difficult to figure out why no one has signed on the dotted line with Tennessee.
However, Travis believes there may be a very good reason.
"I don't think there are a lot of proven head coaches to begin with, and the guys who are good typically have a good situation already," he said. "There's no easy guy. Strong is an easy-fit guy, and I don't think there are a lot of those guys out there right now."
Dougherty and Travis have a theory why things have not been working out for the Vols' program in recent years and why fans may be in for more surprises to come.
"For the last five years, if your options were good things or bad things happening to Tennessee, if you picked bad things, you are entirely 100 percent accurate," Travis said.
Copyright WSMV 2012 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.