Alabama has had notorious former Tennessee head coaches on staff before when they’ve traveled to Knoxville. Just a few years ago, the Tide had Lane Kiffin as their offensive coordinator when they made the trip to Neyland Stadium to play the Vols, and Kiffin was greeted with a loud chorus of boos when he ran out of the tunnel.
This Saturday, Alabama will have another former Tennessee head coach on the sidelines with them. But his role won’t be nearly as noticeable as Kiffin’s was a few years ago.
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Butch Jones was hired as an offensive analyst by Alabama shortly after he was fired in November as the head coach of the Vols. Nick Saban brought him on as an analyst and gave him a $35,000 contract, an annual salary that only barely mitigates the over $8 million buyout the Vols have to pay Jones for firing him before his contract ended at UT.
On Wednesday, Saban was asked about Jones’ role on his staff and how he could help with the Tide getting ready to take on Tennessee. And Saban explained what Jones does for his coaches and team.
“Butch can’t coach the players,” Saban said during the SEC coaches teleconference. “He works hard in terms of assisting our coaches in planning and preparation. Butch is a very bright guy, and he’s done a really good job of that. Basically what he does is assist (offensive coordinator Mike Locksley) as much as possible and always gives me a little summary of things that he thinks we need to work on on offense and just from an overall view from a thousand feet type of thing, which has been very helpful.”
Jones earned a 34-27 record while coaching the Vols, and after leading the team to back-to-back 9-4 seasons in 2015 and 2016, he oversaw the worst season in Tennessee history when the Vols went winless in SEC play for the first time ever and dropped eight total games for the first time ever.
Vol fans have wondered if Jones would be on the sidelines for Tennessee’s match-up with the Tide on Saturday. Saban confirmed that yes, the Vols’ former head coach will be with the team in Knoxville. But Saban did add that Jones’ analysis of Tennessee’s current team will have “no real advantage” considering the schemes on offense and defense are vastly different than what Jones and his staff ran while at Tennessee.
“Butch goes on the trips with us,” Saban said. “It won’t be any different in this game than any other game. I think any time you have somebody on your staff that just coached at a place, he obviously knows a little bit more about the personnel, but their schemes on offense and defense are completely different than what they’ve been in the past, so that’s no real advantage at all.”
Tennessee (3-3, 1-2 SEC) hosts No. 1 Alabama (7-0, 4-0) this Saturday in Neyland Stadium for a 3:30 Eastern kickoff. The Vols have lost 11 consecutive games to the Crimson Tide and have lost eight of those contests by 20 points or more.