KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee offensive coordinator Larry Scott knows all about toughness, and he does not run from its importance nor the priority the Vols place on that aspect of Team 121’s emerging identity.
“It’s not like we’re going to walk out and wave a wand and say ‘hey we’re the toughest guys in the SEC, no, we’re going to each and every day grind through the process of becoming that,” Scott said Thursday, “and each and every week become a better version of that, and that’s what we strive to do each and every day.”
Scott knows how to develop toughness on a football team, having learned from one of the best, former South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt.
Scott and Vols quarterbacks coach Mike Canales were alongside Leavitt 10 years ago when the Bulls became a contender just 10 years into its existence as a football program.
South Florida beat ranked teams Auburn (No. 17) and West Virginia (No. 5) in 2007, marching from relative anonymity to No. 2 in the Top 25 ratings.
Scott was an offensive lineman on the very first South Florida team, which began plan in the FCS ranks in 1997 before making the jump to the FBS ranks in 2001.
The Bulls didn’t alwayshave the same amount of talent as their opponents, but Leavitt instilled toughness, and Scott learned first hand how that could be a winning edge.
Larry Scott philosophy
Unquestionably, Scott will make sure toughness is one characteristic in all of his offenses of the future, whether he’s still a coordinator, or a head coach.
“Toughness is one of those things you’re going to talk about from Day One, until the day the kid leaves the program,” Scott said.
“Consistently and constantly, you are going to talk about that, whether that’s physical toughness or mental toughness, it is a constant process that will go from Day One to the day he leaves, and if they are fortunate enough to walk into life and work an 8 to 5, their butts are going to need to be tough.”
Scott said toughness is not a set skill; it must continue to be developed.
“If they are fortunate enough to play in the NFL, they are going to continue to develop toughness,” said Scott, who was 4-1 as Miami’s interim head coach at the end of the 2015 regular season. “It’s just a part of it, it’s what it is, it’s a process that needs to be talked about, harped on, and that’s what we’re going to do here each and every day.”
Butch Jones buying in
Tennessee coach Butch Jones went all in on hiring Scott and Canales when former coordinator Mike DeBord left after the Vols’ record-setting 2016 offensive campaign.
Jones came up with the “D.A.T.” slogan for the Vols, emphasizing Details, Accountability and Toughness.
Scott said the South Florida Bulls grew into one of the toughest teams in college football using the same approach that Tennessee is applying.
“It was consistent, each and every day, talk about it, be about it, we lived it, preached it,” Scott said, “and it’s a process.”
No doubt, Scott has talked about making the offensive players become “comfortable being uncomfortable” as they compete for starting positions, and called for “purpose and violence” on the football field.