KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee athletic director John Currie predicted orange will be the predominant shade in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sept. 4 when the Vols open the season against Georgia Tech.
“It’s a neutral site game and the Vol nation will be in there in force, and I’ll bet you orange will be the predominant shade, but we’re still the team that’s got to get on the bus for three hours,” Currie said Wednesday on Knoxville’s WKGN-AM 1340.
“I’m proud and pleased with the way our staff is going about preparing for that, and I know our team is going to be ready to play.”
Currie, who officially took over as AD on April 1, said he worked the first 87 days straight before taking a week off for a family trip to a beach in South Carolina.
On Day 96 as athletic director, Currie was still singing Butch Jones’ praises when questioned by “The Drive” host Russell Smith.
“First of all, I think Coach Jones has done a remarkable job of rebuilding our program, and I couldn’t be more proud to be affiliated with him and his wife, Barb,” Currie said. “They are great people and they have done a great job of investing in the community in all the right ways, the results bear that out.
“(From an) academic standpoint, he’s had the best performing academic squad we’ve ever had, and that comes from being one APR point away from being banned from the postseason when Coach Jones first took over (in 2012).”
Currie also said he has noticed the offseason momentum Jones’ program has generated after a second Top 25 finish last season.
“In terms of winning, another 9-win season last year, three bowl wins in a row, all those kinds of things are all testament to the work they’ve done,” Currie said, “and form a momentum standpoint, I pick up the paper and they are talking about some new recruit or new commitment or whatever so we seem to have great momentum in that regard as well.
“He’s extremely organized, I dare say there’s not another coach in college football that works as hard or as smartly as he and his staff do from a recruiting staff. I’m really excited about where we are.”
Currie indicated he knows this season figures to be a challenge for the football team, with the Vols needing to replace Athlon’s SEC Offensive Player of the Year, Josh Dobbs, at quarterback.
“This is a tough business, we got new quarterbacks coming this year, excited about them, the quarterbacks in our program that are competing for our job,” Currie said. “It’s a big transition opportunity for us, and we have an extraordinarily difficult schedule, having to go down to Atlanta to play in that game against Georgia Tech.”
The fact that Tennessee’s largest alumni base is in Atlanta helps soften the blow of playing the Yellow Jackets in their back yard, and likely led to Currie’s proclamation that the Vols will outdraw Georgia Tech in the opener.