KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee coach Butch Jones participated in ESPN’s SEC ‘Car Wash’ on Monday, stopping by for appearances on Mike and Mike and SportsCenter.
The Volunteers fourth-year coach repeated many of his usual positive platitudes while addressing Tennessee’s expectations in 2016, Pat Summit and quarterback Josh Dobbs. Jones also weighed in on the school’s Title IX lawsuit, satellite camps and more.
Here are some subjects Tennessee’s coached addressed Monday.
Right off the bat, Jones was asked about Tennessee’s outlook in the fall, as many prognosticators are picking the Vols to win their first SEC East title since 2007. On SportsCenter, Jones said, “You have to embrace them. … But focus on the performance end of it. Not the outcome and not the results right now.”
Jones smartly refused to take the bait on any specific win-total, though, saying, “You don’t ever talk about it in those terms.”
What’s a successful season for Tennessee?
“Us meeting our potential,” Jones said.
Earlier in the morning, Jones proceeded to repeat his stump speech from SEC Media Days on Mike and Mike.
“We’ve talked about searching for the 25 points. Over the last 18 games, Tennessee is 13-5 with those five losses coming by a combined total 25 points. I think it’s really learning how to win. How to close games out. Clutch performers and clutch plays. Critical moments in the game. How far we’ve come in three years is really a tribute to our players and our coaching staff and everyone associated with our football program. We’ve talked about getting Tennessee football back to relevance. But those are just expectations, it’s what we do with those now.”
2. The Title IX lawsuit
Jones was not asked about the lawsuit on Mike and Mike, but during his SportsCenter spot he was asked what he tells prospective recruits about Tennessee’s lawsuit.
Jones didn’t blink, saying, “We’re very open about it. We constantly educate our players. When we go into these houses they know what we’re about as people. They know the culture that we have in place. I can tell you this my own son is a member of the University of Tennessee football family and it starts with me first and foremost.”
Jones also explained how his staff has taken steps to further educate Tennessee’s current players, saying “over 60 speakers” have talked to the team. Jones said he’s also split the team into groups of 10 and had 1-on-1 sessions promoting growth and maturity this offseason.
3. His relationship with Pat Summit
Jones praised the former Volunteers women’s basketball coach Pat Summit, saying, “You talk about a life of relevancy. Pat Summit is the University of Tennessee. I was blessed and fortunate to spend a lot of time with her, particularly in my first season. I’d go to practice, we’d talk all the time on the phone. She was on our sidelines before the games and I just tried to pick her brain on anything any everything.”
Jones said Summit, who passed away on June 28 and was honored last week with ‘Celebration of Life’ memorial, is the ultimate example of someone who “made a difference.”
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) July 18, 2016
4. Satellite Camps
Jones was asked for his opinion on satellite camps, and Tennessee’s coach weighed the pros and cons of the popular offseason topic.
“Each camp situations is different for each program,” Jones explained.
“For us, we had a few, our coaches worked a few and we thought they were very, very productive. But for us, I think the missing piece is your current team. You’re away from your players in terms of spring recruiting and then you get into camps and we thought it was important that we get around our current team and invest in our current team, but also work from the recruiting trail as well.”
5. About that Mercedes-Benz SLS?
Perhaps the only time Jones was caught off guard Monday was when ESPN’s Mike Greeny inquired about his $220,000 luxury sports car.
Earlier this summer, Jones reportedly said, “Kids judge you by your car. It’s crazy.”
When asked what his remark says about the recruiting landscape and society as a whole, Jones said, “It’s kind of comical because I thought that was blown out of proportion. … As you look at the recruiting trail, they have different report cards at what they’re looking for. More it’s just staying on top of what kids like more so than anything. But really that was something that kind of grew out of nothing.”
Jones repeated his “experience” quote from SEC Media Days, saying, “We still only have 11 seniors on our football team, but we do have experience because a lot of these youngsters were forced to play early as true freshman. As we know, there’s no substitute for experience, especially in the Southeastern Conference.” … On quarterback Josh Dobbs: “Constant growth and constant maturity. You talk about a young man that really defines being a student athlete. … Playing quarterback at Tennessee is a global position, and all the expectations that come along with it. He’s really continued to grow and elevate his game.” … On the program’s foundation: “They know what’s expected of them. It’s accountability. It’s the culture. It’s the capacity of work. Just the overall confidence.”
Jesse Simonton covers Tennessee football and recruiting for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and SECCountry.com