Chris Jones on departing ‘dream job’ at Tennessee high school: ‘I feel like throwing up’

Photo courtesy: Bob Butrym

Chris Jones is excited to join the Toronto Argonauts’ coaching staff but has expressed regret over resigning as the head coach at South Pittsburg High School, which he’d previously called his “dream job.”

“A position came open in professional football and I was offered the job over the weekend,” Jones told Stephen Hargis of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “I haven’t slept hardly since that offer came. It’s a position that I felt like I couldn’t turn down because it’s what’s best for my family.

“Telling the kids was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I feel like throwing up. I know people will say what they want about me because of the timing but the people who know me know how much I care about this program. There were just a lot of things that added up and led to this decision.”

Jones accepted the position at his alma mater on April 3, 2021, becoming South Pittsburg’s sixth head coach in 61 years. He remained on the job for 164 days, resigning on Monday.

South Pittsburg won their season-opener over Sequatchie County on Aug. 20 by a score of 35-7 before forfeiting to Chattanooga Christian due to an outbreak of COVID-19. The team’s two most recent games were both cancelled as Marion County closed all schools due to the rising number of individuals testing positive for the virus.

Toronto had openings on their coaching staff after defensive coordinator Glen Young and defensive backs coach Josh Bell were given a leave of absence. Though head coach Ryan Dinwiddie declined to specify why the coaches are no longer with the team, it is believed that MLSE’s new policy requiring all staff to be vaccinated played a role in their departure.

Jones was named the CFL’s coach of the year with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2018, but left to become a defensive assistant with the Cleveland Browns. The team went 11-5 in 2020 and made the playoffs for the first time since 2002 but did not retain his services when his contract expired.

The veteran coach expressed interest in Edmonton’s vacant coaching position after Scott Milanovich resigned in January but was not hired for the role.