Another name that's jumped into the conversation of late is that of Butch Jones. Jones the current coach for the Central Michigan Chippewas was mentioned early on in some media reports but he has received by far the least fanfare. According to some reports though he might be the most eager candidate to jump from his current position and head to Lawrence.
On the surface this one wouldn't appear to be a very popular choice. To follow a necessary but very publicly embarrassing witch hunt of a proven coach in Mangino with a MAC name that most of our players likely haven't heard of would be viewed by many as a strikeout. That's not to say people don't think Jones can be successful, it just seems like an instance of 1 step forward, 8 steps back.
For just a second though, put that out of your mind. Realize that another candidate that has been fairly well thought of in Turner Gill is also from the MAC. Then realize that Jones has been arguably more successful. Is it a better situation, sure. Does he have the experience with big time programs and coaches to back things up, not so sure.
To really get a better picture on this one though, let's get to know the resume of Butch Jones.
Butch Jones began his collegiate football career at Ferris State University where he lettered twice with the team. Interestingly Jones was already in the coaching profession track even before graduating from the university. From 1987-1989 Jones served in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization as an intern. Not sure if that means he was waxing Vinny Testeverde's back or just rubbing the feet of the overall #1 pick for the Bucs in '87. Regardless, he was around big time football, while he played college football. Pretty clear this is his passion.
After graduation Jones would head to Rutgers University where he would serve two seasons as a graduate assistant before taking his first offensive coordinator post with Wilkes university in 1992. During his tenure jones directed an offense at Wilkes that led the Middle Atlantic Conference in both scoring offense and total offense in 1993, a season in which it won a conference title and qualified for the NCAA Division III Playoffs.
Following the '94 season however, Jones would return to his alma mater to take the same position with his former school. Once again Jones led a successful offense during this time as the Bulldogs would lead the Midwestern Intercollegiate Football Conference in total offense and scoring offense, win a second consecutive MIFC championship in 1996 and advance to the NCAA Division II Quarterfinals.
Following this success Jones would begin his first stint with the Central Michigan Chippewas in 1998. Jones filled a variety of roles during his first stint at CMU (1998-2004), including serving as offensive coordinator from 2001-03. The Chippewas averaged just 271.5 yards per game and 12.5 points per game in 2000; in 2001, Jones' first season directing the offense, those averages jumped to 379.5 yards per game and 22.8 points per game, respectively. He coached three different running backs who earned All-MAC first team or second team honors.
In 2005 however, Jones elected to take a position under Rich Rodriguez at West Virginia coaching the wide recievers. Jones time was brief as we all know Rodriguez moved onto Michigan and with that Jones would return to Central Michigan, this time as the head coach.
When hired Central Michigan Athletic Director Dave Heeke had this to say about Jones, "Butch Jones is widely recognized as one of the rising stars in the coaching profession, and he has a distinct vision of where he wants to lead this football program. The future is bright for Chippewa football." Why this stands out is the distinct vision comment. This is a must for any football coach at the division one level. Being a control freak, hand in ever aspect, running your program type of guy is a good thing. If you have that with the right personality and work ethic it can go a long way.
Getting back to the resume however, Jones' time at CMU has bee successful. It's important to point out however that he has been the beneficiary of the best quarterback in that schools history in Dan LeFevour who was recruited by the former regime. Regardless, Jones did have to impliment his system and has done so to the tune of two 8-5 seasons, 3 bowls and this year his second MAC title with a record of 11-2, 8-0 in the conference.
So there you have it, the Jones resume in it's entirety. There have certainly been some successful coaches to come out of the MAC but is this type of hire enough to provide the needed boost to a program that hit a brick wall this season? Jones is extremely young and maybe Kansas is a program where he could leave his mark, but I highly doubt this is option one for Lew. Jones would have to really knock ol Lew's socks of in an interview and make him believe he not only has the potential to field a solid football team but also rub elbows with donors to make this Lew's top choice.
Still, that doesn't mean he can't be successful. Thinking of Kansas as a continued long term program building project and not a fly by night jump to the top scenario, maybe this is just the guy. He's 41, he's been successful every step of the way and given a little success with Kansas is he the type of guy that could rattle off a 10-20 year career with consistent bowl seasons and the occasional 10 win season here or there? I know we all hate to say it around here but Gary Pinkel came from the MAC and for my money he's going to do at Missouri what we'd like to see done at Kansas.
One last FYI. Other former MAC Coaches who went on to successful BCS careers. Urban Meyer, Bo Schembechler, Woody Hayes, Jim Grobe, Randy Walker, Glen Mason and others. The MAC likes to refer to itself as the "cradle of coaches" maybe Kansas has two options out of this conference before it's all said and done?