KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee coach Butch Jones spent time on ESPN’s SportsCenter on Monday, clarifying how he viewed his team’s performance last season.
Jones raised some eyebrows last week when he didn’t label the Vols’ 9-4 season a disappointment at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala.
The SportsCenter hosts asked Jones about how beginning the season 5-0 and finishing with a 9-4 record could not be disappointing. The losses came to Texas A&M, Alabama, South Carolina and Vanderbilt.
“Well, there are two parts to that question and two parts to the answer,” Jones said. “Any time you don’t win a championship, it is a disappointment. That is our expectation at the University of Tennessee, to compete for championships year in and year out with sustained success.
“We expect to win championships at Tennessee. That’s the No. 1 goal in our football program. So, we were disappointed we did not win a championship. When you look at the resolve and the resiliency that the football team displayed, you’d be hard-pressed to find any team in America that had the setbacks we had last year.”
Tennessee won nine games for the second consecutive season. Only Florida and Alabama have accomplished the same feat in the SEC during the last two years.
“I’m proud of the resolve and resiliency the players showed, and to be able to win in the Southeastern Conference, we just know it’s evidenced by that stat,” Jones said. “We expect to compete to win championships at Tennessee.”
Tennessee broke an 11-season losing streak to Florida by winning 38-28 in September. The Vols followed up the win with a 34-31 victory on the road against Georgia. Both wins involved fourth-quarter comebacks for the Vols.
Jones led Tennessee to a third consecutive bowl win last season, defeating Nebraska 38-24 in the Music City Bowl in Nashville. That’s the first time the Vols have finished three seasons in a row with a bowl victory in 20 years.
Last season brought great moments for fans to celebrate, even though Tennessee didn’t win the SEC East. The fans have responded well to the Jones tenure and continue to support the program.
The average attendance numbers have risen every season under Jones – from 95,584 in 2013 to 100,968 in 2016.