KNOXVILLE — Butch Jones has kept a low profile this summer, and when Tennessee’s fourth-year football coach has spoken, it seems he tries not to say much.
Jones appeared on ESPN programming on Monday, and naturally he was asked about the Vols being picked to win the SEC East Division.
“You have to embrace them,” Jones said when asked about the high expectations. “But focus on the performance end of it. Not the outcome and not the results right now.”
Not the outcome? Seriously?
Not to be ugly, but Jones is getting paid more than $4 million annually to focus on the outcome. Winning and losing matters at this level, and particularly in the SEC.
That’s why Tennessee pours tens of millions into its football program and has some of the finest facilities and largest recruiting budgets in the nation.
Vols’ fans haven’t seen the Big Orange win the SEC East Division since 2007, and Jones has the talent and coaching staff to make an appearance in the league title game this season.
Jones deserves credit for rebuilding the program.
But his recent attempts to soften the expectations come off as weak, and they could send the wrong message to his team.
Particularly when he defines a successful season as “Us meeting our potential.”
Just say it next time, Coach: You need to beat Florida, and you need to win the SEC East Division.