Make no mistake:  CMU Football Coach Butch Jones gets it!


Don’t get to nervous Chip fan when it comes to the new football staff led by Butch Jones:  they get it.  It may be a shock that Dave Heeke the AD got it right, but after handling the entire process of hiring a new coach in my opinion in a terrible fashion he did get it right with Jones.


Butch Jones like every coach and person I am sure wants to apply his craft at the highest levels.  I am sure like everyone he wants to make all the money he can.  I am also sure that he loves being in Mt. Pleasant and he wears the CMU logo with pride.


Jones understands the situation he walked into.  I talked with several players that were less then happy with the school and athletic administration before he came in and there were many of the donors and boosters that echoed those thoughts.  He followed a very successful coach and an assistant that depending on whose story you believe was at best the glue that held the program together through the bowl and at worst used (my thoughts on that will come out later) by and athletic administration until they could find their guy.  Jones came in and unified both groups.  He is gracious with praise for his predecessor yet confident in what he can do. 


Two days after Kelly announced he was leaving I said that Jones should get the job and still say that today.  He is young, charismatic and most of all:  smart.  Jones understands that he has to play right down the middle and win the fan base and players that loved what it was yet still let everyone know that there is a lot more on the horizon.  He has walked into a program that has a lot of talent but it also has some needs that can’t be overlooked with smoke screens and trick plays.  Remember last year when you went for it on fourth down in your end of the field?  That was a coach trying to show flash on national T.V.  You won’t see that with Jones. 


He has expanded next weekends spring game to include the fans calling plays which simply builds on making CMU a destination spot rather then a roll through.  I like Brian Kelly and consider him a friend.  I can also tell you that I am building a friendship with Jones and this may be Jones first head coaching job, but CMU has not taken a step back.


Kelly knows offense and isn’t afraid to tell you.  Jones knows it but will let you see it.  One of his players said it best last week when he told me “I love Coach Kelly but Coach Jones has added a lot and I really think we will be better.”  I think that Jones fits the CMU mold.  I was talking with him this week at MSU football practice and to me that said it all.  Kelly wouldn’t have reached out and done that but Jones is Kelly minus some of the bravado.  Again, I am not hating on Brian I consider him a friend and I am telling you he is a great coach.  Jones understands exactly what CMU is.  He understands what being a Chip is.  He fits in up at Mt. Pleasant!  He isn’t afraid to reach out to the state of Michigan and be an ambassador for the beautiful Mid Michigan town of Mt. Pleasant.    There is a reason why WVU head coach Rich Rodriguez told me last year while I was in Morgantown to interview him “I needed a guy that could go after the talent rich Michigan area and Butch was the clear choice.  He is gifted recruiter and a great coach.”  Sorry haters, Rodriguez gets my endorsement as one of the best 10 coaches in college football and he felt that way before Jones was the CMU guy.


I admire Kelly and said right here on Spartan Nation when he was hired at CMU that he was all but gone.  I say that he is all but gone now with the Bearcats.  He is a coach that will reach the top with no doubts.  Jones is the same.  The difference is that you don’t get the sense that he has one foot out the door and the other on a banana peel.  I would highly doubt that Jones is at CMU in five years.  He is a coach that will get his door bell rang.  If I were a young kid once again, I would have to look at Jones.  He is an offensive genius and has built a staff that is second to none.  He went out and got guys that played at CMU and love CMU and most of all, they are teachers.  Let’s be honest and frank, not many five-star recruits will pick CMU over Notre Dame, UM and MSU.  The kids he gets, however, will be teachable and have a chip on their shoulder as to why the bigger schools didn’t want them.  By getting a staff that loves football and CMU and most of all love to teach, Jones showed the Chip fans all they needed to know.  The kid the Chips get may not be a five-star but they are talented and the right coaches can bring them to the next level.  He got two coordinators that are brilliant thinkers and teachers and put behind them a group of position coaches that will be future stars themselves. 


Perhaps the biggest difference between Jones and Kelly is that Jones is making Mt. Pleasant a destination and not a stop over, something that people can sense.  He wants people to come up and enjoy a day there, not come up to see him.  Jones emphasis is on Mt. Pleasant and CMU not just him.  He mentioned to me how people should “come up and spend a day, and get a hotel and enjoy Mt. Pleasant.”  He’s my buddy but I never caught Kelly acting as if he was the newest President of the Mt. Pleasant fan club.


I will be at the CMU spring game on the twenty-first and I for one can’t wait to see what the Chips will do.  I loved going to Mt. Pleasant to see what Kelly was going to do.  There is that difference again, with Jones it is going to see what the Chips do.  There is a huge difference and the Chip fans will see what I mean.


Get your welcome rugs out Chip fans, he may not have the bravado but he has the “it” factor that sports media talking heads, like me, and fifty-year old beer bellied fans scream for.  I don’t think he will be there for long, but it isn’t because he is already looking.  It is because he is that good.  Still think last year was a great year?  You still had four losses!  Don’t worry; Jones will remind you that there is a long way to go.  He will get job offers because his emphasis is on winning and not on him. 


The Chips last two coaches (Kelly and Jones) are two totally different people.  Kelly is a rising star.  Jones is also, but he would prefer you say he is a rising Chip.  He may end up at a much bigger BCS school one day, but under his parka will be a CMU shirt.  He loves the place, and loves the chance they have given him.  Something the Chip fans will not regret.


See you in Mt. Pleasant on the twenty-first under the lights, I can wait to see what the Chips do!