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Report: Butch Jones out at Tennessee; Brady Hoke named interim head coach

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Tennessee is preparing to rebuild their program brick by brick, once again. Following yet another dismal performance in SEC play, Tennessee will reportedly cut ties with head coach Butch Jones. Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated was among the first to report the development out of Knoxville, via Twitter. Chris Low of ESPN added Brady Hoke will take over as interim head coach for the rest of the season.

The news comes one day after Tennessee lost at Missouri, 50-17. The loss dropped the Vols to 4-6, putting them on the brink of being eliminated from postseason contention. Tennessee is now 0-6 in SEC play with LSU and Vanderbilt remaining in conference play. Hired at the end of the 2012 season, Jones had coached Tennessee to a 34-27 record in the span of five years with some highly-rated recruiting classes along the way with a bowl record of 3-0, but the Vols were clearly heading in a downward spiral despite back-to-back 9-win seasons the past two seasons. A trend of either not being able to live up to expectations and becoming a program running on gimmicks like catchphrases, life championships, and sideline trash cans had led Tennessee to be disrespected from within and from outside. But the results on the field ultimately matter the most, and Jones and Tennessee had established quite the disturbing trends on the field.

During Jones’ run as head coach of the Vols, Tennessee appeared to have a wide-open window to take advantage of the struggles of their division opponents. Unfortunately for Tennessee, the Vols were never able to seize the division at a time when Florida was going through some struggles and Georgia had their hiccups. Tennessee failing to capture a division crown despite the lofty expectations and solid recruiting classes became the ultimate failure of the program, and now Jones is left paying the price for those missed opportunities.

Where Tennessee goes from here should be wildly entertaining as they now join division rival Florida on the lookout for a new head coach. The Tennessee job should be an attractive one and the right coach should be able to get things turned around relatively quickly.

The Tennessee job is now the third coaching opening in the SEC. In addition to Tennessee and Florida, Ole Miss will also be looking to hire a new head coach after cutting the cord with Hugh Freeze before the start of the season.

West Virginia names Dontae Wright as outside LBs coach

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Neal Brown‘s West Virginia football coaching staff is whole again.

Earlier this month, Al Pogue left God’s Country to return to Auburn as a defensive assistant. A week later, West Virginia football confirmed that Dontae Wright has been tapped as Pogue’s replacement.

Wright will coach the Mountaineers’ outside linebackers.

“Dontae is an excellent addition to our coaching staff and comes highly recommended,” the West Virginia football head coach said in a statement. “He brings years of defensive experience and has an ability to recruit with success in different areas of the country. I was impressed with his leadership and player development at each of his stops. We are looking forward to Dontae joining the Mountaineer Football program.”

The past two seasons, Wright was the safeties coach at Western Michigan. That was Wright’s first on-field role at the FBS level.

This will, obviously, be his first on-field job at a Power Five program as well.

“This is an unbelievable opportunity for me to be a member of Neal Brown’s staff, work with a great group of players and be a part of a program with the tradition of West Virginia University,” Wright said. “I’m looking forward to competing against the best in the conference, competing against the best in the nation in recruiting and assisting everyone in the football building to elevate our program. Growing up right outside West Virginia, I understand and respect what this state is about. I look forward to getting started.”

West Virginia football will kick off spring practice early next month. The Mountaineers will hold their annual spring game April 18.

Les Miles adds Jonathan Wallace as newest Kansas assistant

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After one of his Kansas football assistants left and created a hole in his staff, Les Miles moved quickly to fill it.

Last week, Tony Hull exited the Kansas football program.  Tuesday, it was confirmed that Hull had taken a job at Hawaii.  That hiring completed Todd Graham‘s first coaching staff at the Mountain West Conference school, incidentally.

The same day Hull’s Hawaii hiring was announced, Kansas football confirmed that his replacement, Jonathan Wallace, was been hired.  The former Auburn quarterback/wide receiver will coach KU’s running backs.  The Alabama native will also serve as special teams coordinator.

“Jonathan is a detail-oriented coach, who is also a dynamic recruiter,” the Kansas football head coach said in a statement. “He has experience with a championship-caliber football program as both a player and a coach and knows the intricacies of the offensive scheme we want to run. Additionally, he has a strong understanding of what we want to accomplish in all phases of the kicking game.”

In 2019, Wallace was the tight ends coach at Air Force.  That was his first on-field job at the FBS level.

The year before that, Wallace was on the coaching staff at NAIA Bethel as wide receivers coach.  That program’s head coach?  Current Jayhawks offensive current Brent Dearmon.

Wallace began his coaching career as an offensive graduate assistant coach at Auburn from 2016-17.  He worked with quarterbacks and wide receivers during the 2017 season.

During Wallace’s time as an Auburn football player (2012-15), Miles was the head coach at SEC West rival LSU.

Concussions force Baylor’s Bralen Taylor to retire

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Concern over his long-term health has prompted one Baylor football player to step away from the sport.  Permanently.

On his personal Twitter account Tuesday, Bralen Taylor announced in a statement that he is “medically retiring from the game I love.” The wide receiver-turned-tight-end-turned-defensive end stated that he has “suffered from a number of concussions while playing” football.  Taylor didn’t specify when and at what level those concussions occurred.

“This is the game that I grew up playing and loving. [T]his game has [given] me everything I have ever asked for and more,” Taylor wrote. “The brain is nothing to mess around with. [W]hile some won’t understand, [God] has already made a plan.”

Taylor was a three-star member of the Baylor football Class of 2018.  He was rated as the No. 90 player regardless of position in the state of Texas.

During his brief time in Waco, Taylor played in six games.  Four of those appearances came this past season.  In that limited action, he was credited with three tackles and one-half of a sack.

Baylor football has gone from 1-11 in Matt Rhule‘s first season with the Bears in 2017 to 11-3 this past season.  The 2019 campaign included a berth in both the Big 12 championship game and the Sugar Bowl.

Unfortunately for BU, Rhule left to take the head job with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.

USC makes hiring of Virginia’s Vic So’oto official

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The massive renovation of Clay Helton’s USC football coaching staff has taken another official step.

Last week, it was reported that USC was expected to poach Vic So’oto from Virginia.  As Clint Sintim‘s hiring as So’oto’s replacement was announced a few days later, the latter’s move to the Trojans was a mere formality.

Tuesday, USC football confirmed So’oto’s addition to Clay Helton’s staff.  As he did with the ‘Hoos, So’oto will serve as the Trojans’ defensive line coach.

The 32-year-old So’oto was the line coach at Virginia for the past three seasons.  Prior to that, he was a defensive graduate assistant at the ACC program.

So’oto played his college football at BYU, ending his four-year career in 2010.  After his NFL career ended, So’oto began his collegiate coaching career as a football intern at his alma mater.

For those unaware, So’oto is the second cousin of USC football legend Junior Seau.