Sorry, I had a lot going on this weekend, and I was not able to get everything up and going. Butch Jones had his debut press conference on Friday, and the weekend had no shortage of news. The only coach from Derek Dooley’s staff that was retained was Running Back’s coach Jay Graham. Jones brought a much of his staff with him from Cincinnati, as well as former Georgia Defensive Coordinator Willie Martinez to be Tennessee’s Secondary coach, and Auburn recruiting whiz Tommy Thigpen. The newest rumor is that one of the greatest Vols of all time will soon join Jones’ staff. The quarterback of the 1998 national champion team: Tee Martin. One thing is for sure. More than Derek Dooley and certainly more than Lane Kiffin, Butch Jones has embraced Tennessee Tradition as his own.
Last Friday’s introductory press conference, gave us lots of insight on Tennessee’s new head man:
On His Staff:
I’m going to start off and answer some questions but first of all, our coaching staff. I’m up here today, I can assure that we will put together the best football staff in the country. Not just the Southeastern Conference, but the entire country. I have a checklist of what I’m looking for. First of all it starts with character. I want individuals with tremendous character and then I want great teachers. Great teachers in the game of life, great teachers in the game of football. Fundamentalists, motivators. There’s a difference between teaching and presenting. Anybody can present anything. What we want is great teachers, and individuals who have passion to be here at the University of Tennessee.
Ummm….I am pretty sure he wrote that down, but that is amazing. (If you couldn’t tell by now, Coach Jones has a very different style than Dooley)
On Tennessee Tradition:
To our letterwinners, you are the foundation. We will have an open door policy with our practices. You have laid the foundation for us to have much success for many years to come. I’m a firm believer that our letterwinners are the program. They will be welcomed back at any time. I look forward to getting to know everyone. I’ve had about 18 text messages from Charles Davis and I’ll probably get Peyton in trouble, but about four days ago I got a text message from Peyton Manning. He was selling me on Colorado. He said `It’s hard for a person from the University of Tennessee to selling someone to come to the University of Colorado.’ I wanted to text back `Well c’mon, let’s go. I want to go to Tennessee.’ So I look forward to obviously talking with him.
Erik Ainge is already impressed with Coach Jones’ desire to connect with the past. It’s one of our greatest recruiting tools. Which segues nicely into:
You win with players. Let me make no mistake that we are going to win first and foremost with the great state of Tennessee. We have tremendous high school coaches in this state. We are the state institution and we will own our state. We are going to be at every high in the state and our players are going to understand what is to wear the power T, they’re going to understand what it is to represent their home institution. I take great pride in that.
Jones started his UT career on Friday night by visiting one of the top recruits in the state: Nashville’s Corn Elder. Hopefully Jones recruiting message sells. Very premature signs are that they will. Nashville’s Vic Wharton, Jalen Reeves-Maybin of Clarksville, and Riley Ferguson of Matthews North Carolina, all expressed their pleasure with Jones as the new hire.
On The SEC:
If you want to be best, you want to compete in the best and obviously the SEC is the best football conference in the country. I have many good friends that compete at this level, on the center stage and I look forward to it. I think what you have to do is look at our football staff and our body of work. Six years and four championships… I will be the first to tell you that Nick Saban and Les Miles had zero SEC experience when they came into the league, so that’s awesome.
Perfect answer coach. Perfect.
On the Fans:
First of all our fan base and myself have the same expectations. We’re working to be the best. We’re working to be number one every day. We’re working to be national champions and we’re working to be SEC champions. This program has done it and we’ll do it again. That’s the thing when you talk about things that attract you. The Tradition that we have here is second to none. The pride that we have here is second to none. All we have to do is get a student-athlete on campus. If we get a student-athlete on campus, they should be sold. The goals, the commitment, the resources. We know what we’re doing. When I spoke with Dave in the interview, I saw a vision. You keep growing. Whether you’re a director of athletics or a head football coach, you get to paint the vision for your athletic department and your football program. That’s one of the reasons that attracted me to come here as well. I have the same expectations. Nobody puts more expectations than my wife and my three boys. If we lose a game in the Jones house, they don’t talk to me for a week. I think they all have their own blogs too.
The guy has won for years and has had trouble filling 40,000 seat Nippert Stadium. UT was 4-7, and got 75,000 to watch Kentucky. The dude has to love that.
On What Tennessee will look like on the field:
Offensively, we are going to be a team that takes care of the football. We are going to run a no-huddle offense. I don’t like to use the term “spread,” because I think that the word “finesse” is associated with that…”We are going to be a physical style of offense and be a pro-style offense…”Defensively, we are going to be a team that is going to swarm to the football and causes turnovers. We’ll be a team that doesn’t beat itself…”We’ll do some different things. It’s building a foundation to where everybody speaks the same language, from the training room, to the eating table to our strength and conditioning to our academic settings. It’s one program and we’ll be bought into one goal. That breeds success.”
It will be interesting to see what players stay next year, and how Jones’ style affects the current roster. Here’s looking at you: Tyler Bray, Justin Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Juwuan James.
I’ve worked for a lot of great head coaches and with every coach I’ve come in contact with, if you can recruit, you can recruit. It doesn’t matter what school you come from or where in the country… recruiting is selling. Recruiting is a people business so I want the best teachers and best recruiters no matter where we have to go to get them. I do think it’s important that we have some coaches that know the lay of the land, but I really think if you’re a great recruiter, you can recruit anywhere because it’s all relationship based.
I agree with this. I think the Knoxville media puts too much emphasis on this myself. This is not the 1880s, it’s not a different country.
On Being UT’s third (or 4th) choice:
I think I was my wife’s third choice.
Great answer. Shoot, we’ve all applied for jobs before, and some of us have even prayed that the guy in front of us turns it down. All most people want is a good chance.
On His Style with Coordinators.
I have an offensive background so I’ll sit more in the offensive meetings, but I’m a CEO. I’m going to make sure we’re all on the same page – offensive, defense and special teams – but also I’m hiring a staff to do their jobs. I’m not a micro-manager. I want to know everything. You’ll see me at practice and it will be high-energy. I’m going to be involved in all three phases, but I’m not a micro-manager. I’m going to assemble the best staff in America and I’m going to let them coach.
From what I can gather, this is the opposite of Dooley
On When he Decided to Pull the Trigger
We’ve all talked about player-coach relationships and change is hard so that’s what I told our current football team. Change is unsettling, but it’s how you embrace the change. I’ve invested three hard years into there and Whit Babcock is a very close friend of mine so it’s hard to say goodbye. Again, I’m standing up here today because of the success of our players back to Cincinnati. Just like a quarterback – I think sometimes coaches get too much praise when they win and too much blame when they lose. We have a phrase that we say, `Praise and blame it’s all the same.’ But I’m standing up here because of our team at Cincinnati and because they were successful. It’s difficult but when you walk in here and you meet your new team and the goals, you’re just intoxicated by the success here. You can see all the great players. We’re standing in the Peyton Manning Locker Room… The greatest quarterback of all time. I’m excited to get going and I feel a sense of energy here and commitment.
Well, I was underwhelmed by the process, but I am happy with the result.