Despite the 2016 season being largely a disappointment by the standards of most Vol fans, Tennessee actually got good return on their investment in terms of Butch Jones’ contract for the season.
Butch Jones makes $4,110,000 annually according to salary information obtained by USA Today prior to the 2016 football season. Jones’ contract makes him the 18th-highest paid coach in all of college football but only the ninth-highest paid coach in the SEC. And despite one writer claiming Jones was one of the most overpaid head coaches in college football, the data doesn’t necessarily back up that claim.
Tennessee won nine games last season, which means Jones earned $455,555 per victory. Only Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason earned less money per win, which means the Vols got the second-best value out of their head coach in terms of pure win-loss record.
Here’s how the whole SEC pans out when it comes to contract value by money earned per win:
- Derek Mason – Vanderbilt ($426,126 per win)
- Butch Jones – Tennessee ($455,555)
- Kirby Smart – Georgia ($469,200)
- Jim McElwain – Florida ($474,258)
- Nick Saban – Alabama ($495,671)
- Will Muschamp – South Carolina ($500,417)
- Mark Stoops – Kentucky ($501,943)
- Barry Odom – Missouri ($587,5000
- Gus Malzahn – Auburn ($591,188)
- Bret Bielema – Arkansas ($592,143)
- Kevin Sumlin – Texas A&M ($625,000)
- Dan Mullen – Mississippi State ($700,000)
- Hugh Freeze – Ole Miss ($940,700)
- Les Miles – LSU ($2,192,783)*
*Les Miles was fired after LSU’s fourth game of the season
Of course, this doesn’t take into account how these wins were earned or who the teams beat to get them. Nor does it include division or conference titles. Jim McElwain’s fourth-best contract value is even better when you consider Florida won the SEC East last year, and Nick Saban’s value is better considering Alabama won the SEC and made it to the National Championship Game yet again.
For Tennessee, some of that value is lost when you consider the Vols were picked to win the SEC East then lost to South Carolina and Vanderbilt in the last half of the season to squander that opportunity.
When it comes to looking purely at wins and losses, Tennessee is getting a great value out of Butch Jones. But unfortunately for Jones, the true value of a coach isn’t just the number of wins he earns; the value comes from who you beat and the level at which you compete. Although Jones has helped build Tennessee back up to respectability, they still haven’t won the SEC East or made a top tier bowl game under him. Nor have they beaten an SEC West opponent.
Tennessee is getting good value from their contract with Butch Jones. But fans hope the 2017 season make it an even better deal.