Butch Jones to Tennessee? Decision could come Friday morning

Jared Wickerham

The great Tennessee coaching search of 2012, Round 2, could be coming to a close soon.

Tennessee appears to have found out this week that, at least in the minds of specific football coaches, it currently ranks behind Louisville, North Carolina and Oklahoma State. Based on reports, the Vols were turned down four times, by Charlie Strong, Larry Fedora and Mike Gundy, plus Jon Gruden. Things got low.

But that's okay. After a coaching search reboot that stirred up Bobby Petrino and Phillip Fulmer rumors, they might've finally landed their guy:

Jones' Bearcats have a widely reported 7:30 a.m. ET meeting that was not previously scheduled. That could go one way or the other. Most things could go one way or the other. We're not getting anywhere here. It could be a goodbye, or it could be another Strong.

According to reports, Jones was nearly named the coach at Colorado before backing out. That also happened to be around the time Tennessee's supposed final three was vanishing, leading to the conclusion that it was all connected, maaan. Lo and behold, it just might've been.

However, Tennessee's not pinning all its hopes on one guy. SB Nation reported Wednesday night that Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart is also a top candidate, and Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville has been in touch. So if Jones falls through, expect to hear those names next.

There's also been talk of Nebraska's Bo Pelini throwing his angry hat in the ring, but that's being denied from the Lincoln side. Please try and fathom how a coach fresh off giving up 70 points would go over in Knoxville.

Look through SB Nation's many excellent college football blogs to find your team's community.

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