Tennessee athletics director Dave Hart joined WMNL-FM radio in Knoxville on Friday afternoon and spoke on a variety of topics, but had several interesting comments on Butch Jones’ decision to move on from former defensive coordinator John Jancek.
Hart, who awarded Jones with a raise to approximately $4.1 million per year in December, said he hasn’t committed to an exact total of money that Jones will be permitted to use on his staff in 2016, but didn’t shy away from indicating that he would be willing to go above the approximate $3.5 million that Tennessee’s assistants were paid in 2015.
“We’re totally committed to the pursuit of continued success in our football program and we’ve backed that up on a number of occasions,” Hart said. “We know, and I know, what Butch’s priorities are and he has a very good sense and feel for what that pool of money looks like this year. The difference is, and you’ve heard me say this many times too, our industry is very competitive and very market driven, so we will do what we feel like we need to do and still be fiscally responsible. We will do what we need to do to keep the excitement, and the energy and progress moving forward that we have witnessed since Butch Jones came in here to lead this football program.”
Hart also spoke glowingly of former tight ends coach and special teams coordinator Mark Elder and his opportunity to move on to be the head coach at Eastern Kentucky, saying he handled the transition well. He then went on to discuss the decision-making process at defensive coordinator, calling it a difficult decision for Jones that was made after a year-end assessment.
“As Butch did his total assessment and made a decision to make a change in the position of defensive coordinator, now we’ll reassess where we are at the appropriate time,” Hart said. “It’s part of what we do in our industry, is we do those annual assessments, and it’s never easy. And Butch made that comment and it was a very sincere comment. It’s not easy, it’s hard. But you have to do the assessment and make those changes….I think it is only appropriate that each coach has the latitude to make those decisions for his or her programs. And, again, never easy, and certainly this one was not easy for Butch, but he’s moved on now to the next phase, which is the search process for John’s replacement.”
The Vols reportedly brought in Penn State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop on Friday for an interview. For more on him and some other potential candidates, here’s our Tennessee defensive coordinator hot board.