HOOVER, Ala. — SEC Media Days are all about the sound bite, and while Tennessee coach Butch Jones didn’t set the room on fire, the Vols’ fifth-year head coach did have some interesting quotes.
Here are the Top 10 quotes from Jones at the Wynfrey Hotel in the Riverchase Galleria on Monday:
1. “If both players earn their right to play, we’ll play both quarterbacks.”
Tennessee fans wondered if Jones was serious about a 2-quarterback system, and here’s the answer.
2. “We want more, and we expect more, and I know our fans want more.”
Jones is more in touch with the fan base than he gets credit for being, but he doesn’t often pander to them, instead staying focused on his team and the mission.
3. “4th of July my phone is blowing up, it’s Brady Hoke, he’s talking about the dynamics of our staff, how it’s going to be a great year, and for me it was comforting.”
Jones doesn’t often provide insight into his staff and personal life, so it was interesting to hear him share what obviously was a rewarding moment for him last week.
4. “That’s a friendship I value; [Phillip Fulmer] has been a mentor to me and a sounding board to me, and that’s from year one.”
Jones has taken advantage of having Fulmer’s expertise in his back yard, and Fulmer has proven a strong advocate of the job Jones is doing.
5.”Everything is about competitive depth. Last season was a great illustration to our young players that you are one snap from playing. The names may change, but the expectations don’t.”
If there was a silver lining to 17 starters missing games with injuries, it was that several young players got game experience. That could pay dividends this season.
6. “I think he [Mike Canales] is the best developer of quarterbacks in the country.”
Jones really, really likes his new coaches, and Canales has clearly elevated the staff with his experience as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
7. “It has been a group effort from a leadership standpoint.”
That’s not coach-speak, that’s a testament to Jones’ first four-year cycle of recruits having gone through and raised the bar.
8. “Our goal every year is to win a championship and compete to win a championship.”
Jones makes note of the progress Tennessee has made and credits his players’ efforts, but he isn’t running from the expectations, either.
9. “I don’t like to use the term disappointment.”
Some media opined that Jones should have admitted being disappointed by the Vols’ 9-4 season, but that’s never been Jones’ nature, as he said he was proud of his players efforts while admitting the team fell short of its goals.
10. “Sometimes, there’s not a good answer.”
Jones said he tries to be as straight-forward as possible, but SEC Media Day is filled with questions that are difficult to answer and put into context. Indeed, if Jones said he was disappointed with last season it probably would have quickly became a headline and conflicted with him praising his departing seniors for their efforts and accomplishments.