KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee coach Butch Jones met with reporters for the first time since 247Sports published an explosive article calling the culture in the program “a disaster” last week.
Jones called the report “untrue” Tuesday, adamantly defending his program’s health.
The fourth-year coach actually opened his presser announcing that the team will visit Gatlinburg for their annual bowl dinner on Wednesday, saying that the trip will hold a special meaning this year after wildfires ravaged the town and the Great Smokey Mountain National Park
Asked what it means for Vol players to go and volunteer in the community and sign autographs for elementary kids, Jones responded, “We always talk about consistency and sustained success, and that’s what we’re building this football program on.
“I understand that there was an article that came out with many unnamed sources, and I don’t stand for anybody attacking our football program because it’s untrue. It’s very, very unfortunate. I take that personal. I know our players take it personal and everyone in our football family takes it personal. There are so many positive things going on here with our players. You look at recruiting right now, that’s a by-product of our players being our best ambassadors.”
Tennessee has cleaned up on the recruiting trail in the last week, landing a flurry of commitments including 5-star offensive tackle Trey Smith.
Still, a sputtering 8-4 regular-season including a loss at Vanderbilt in the finale put Jones & Co. under the microscope.
The report noted Tennessee’s strength and conditioning issues, the litany of midseason departures — Preston Williams, Jalen Hurd and Danny O’Brien — and rumored staff unrest, culminating into a cultural problem.
Travis Haney’s report anonymously quoted numerous sources inside the program, and while the story touched on a slew of topics addressed previously by other outlets, the compilation of hits enraged many in Tennessee’s football program.
“You look how far we’ve come in the program,” Jones said.
“Have we had some setbacks this year? Absolutely. But I think this football team has overcome a lot of obstacles and adversities. And that’s really when you find out about people is in adverse times and adverse situations, and how do they respond?
“Again, it’s very, very unfortunate, but I’m never going to let anybody attack our football program that doesn’t know our football program that doesn’t know our football program.”