Former Tennessee Vols head coach Butch Jones is having a tough time with his coaching staff at Arkansas State.

Jones, who agreed to become the Red Wolves’ head coach after working for three seasons as a “special assistant” at Alabama, is already on his third offensive coordinator at Arkansas State despite being on the job less than a month.

Former Houston head coach Major Applewhite was initially set to serve as Jones’ offensive coordinator, but then he quickly left for the same job at South Alabama.

A.J. Milwee was next on the list. But shortly after agreeing to become Jones’ offensive coordinator, he bolted for a job at Texas on Steve Sarkisian’s staff.

Keith Heckendorf, who was Arkansas State’s offensive coordinator in 2019 and 2020, is now set to serve as the Red Wolves’ offensive coordinator in 2021 under Jones.

This means Jones essentially told Heckendorf he wasn’t the guy he wanted to lead his offense and then he had to go back and beg him to return to Arkansas State when the first two offensive coordinator hires didn’t work out.

If that’s not bad enough, Jones released this ridiculous statement when Heckendorf agreed to return.

Coach Heckendorf is an individual that I have known for a number of years dating back to his days at North Carolina. I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for him as a person, a mentor and a coach, and have followed the success of his offenses for a number of years. Everywhere I have coached, Coach Heckendorf has always been on the top of my list, including from day one when I took the job at Arkansas State, and we are very excited to have him leading our offense.

That’s an odd statement to make after giving the job to two other people first. But it’s Butch Jones, so odd isn’t surprising.

By the way, that’s not the only staffing issue Jones has had during his short time at Arkansas State.

Football Scoop reported on Wednesday that Jones lost his strength coach Brian Johnson to California.

Johnson was actually a pretty good hire by Jones. He has extensive NFL and SEC experience. I was surprised Jones lured him to Arkansas State, but I’m not surprised he quickly jumped at the opportunity to leave Jones behind.

Maybe things will end up working out for Butch at Arkansas State, but it’s certainly not off to a good start for him.

Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports


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