Butch Jones fired as Tennessee football coach, 'exhaustive search' underway for replacement

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones yells from the sideline during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Missouri, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

The Butch Jones era of Tennessee football ended at Missouri's Faurot Field on Saturday night.

First-year athletic director John Currie announced Sunday that Jones has stepped down as coach as the Volunteers sit at 4-6 (0-6 Southeastern Conference) in Jones' fifth season.

"Unfortunately, we are not where we need to be competitively," Currie said in a statement released by the athletic department.

Defensive line coach Brady Hoke will be the interim head coach. The Volunteers host LSU on Saturday and close the regular season by hosting Vanderbilt in two weeks. They need to win both games to qualify for a fourth consecutive bowl game.

An injury-plagued Tennessee team suffered its latest setback by losing 50-17 to Missouri on Saturday night. The loss gave the Volunteers a losing streak to every other team in the conference.

A press conference with Currie is scheduled for 5 p.m. on the Tennessee campus.

"An exhaustive search is underway for a person of the highest integrity and character with the skills and vision to propel Tennessee to championships," Currie said in the statement. "This search will be my sole focus, and I will be in regular contact with Chancellor Davenport. I want to make clear that we are intensely committed to hiring the best coach for Tennessee."

Jones' tenure ends with a 34-27 record that includes a 14-24 mark against Southeastern Conference opponents. Since rising to a No. 9 national ranking with a 5-0 start in 2016, the Vols have lost 10 of their last 18 games.

"I would like to emphasize how much I appreciate Butch and Barb Jones and their sons, Alex, Adam and Andrew," Currie said in the statement. "The Jones family has poured their heart and soul into this Tennessee football program and the Knoxville community. We have been fortunate to have Coach Jones lead our program for the last five years. During that time, the program has improved tremendously in the areas of academics, discipline and community involvement."

This is a developing story.