Convinced he could coach at a higher level and determined to make that career jump happen as quickly as possible, Chris Jones once sat outside the football office at Tennessee Tech University for more than eight hours, just to talk his way into an interview to join the staff.
At the time Jones was an assistant at North Jackson (Ala.) High, having just helped that program claim the 1993 Class 4A state championship and once he met with then TTU coach Jim Ragland, he talked his way into becoming a graduate assistant by promising to outwork any other coach on staff.
From that opportunity, the former South Pittsburg High and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga player worked his way up the coaching ladder, later working at Tennessee-Martin before becoming an assistant in the Canadian Football League, where his career has continued to climb.
Wednesday morning, Jones was named the 20th head coach of the Edmonton Eskimos, one of the CFL's most storied franchises.
"One of the things I told our management here in Edmonton is that I grew up in a place where football is very important, so I understand what it means to have high expectations," Jones said. "The expectation level here will be the same as it is at South Pittsburg - we'll expect to win every game and you have to not only get to the playoffs but win your last game or its not a successful season.
"I moved up from a high school and then college assistant to a defensive coordinator and now head coach here by working as hard as I could at every job I had. And I'll continue doing that here. I've made some mistakes along the way and had to overcome some obstacles, but this is a tremendous opportunity and I'm excited to get started."
Jones has been an assistant in the CFL for 12 years, including the last two as the Toronto Argonauts' defensive coordinator, assistant head coach and assistant general manager. He has won Grey Cups in all three of his coaching stops in the CFL - 2002 with Montreal, 2008 with Calgary and 2012 with Toronto. Teams he has coached for have never missed the playoffs and he will try to turn around an Edmonton team that finished 4-14 last season.
"Chris Jones has paid his dues in the Canadian Football League and has earned this opportunity," Eskimos General Manager Ed Hervey said in a press release. "His commitment to the league and record of success is impressive. I look forward to working with him."
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.