KNOXVILLE — Butch Jones hasn’t written a book on coaching, but it turns out that he does keep notes.
Tennessee has gone from five, to seven to nine wins under Jones, and with a lofty preseason ranking of No. 10, even more is expected from the Volunteers this season.
UT tailback Jalen Hurd, who’s on pace to become the Vols’ all-time leading rusher, said Thursday that Tennessee is ready to play right now.
Jones, asked about that at his press conference after Hurd, said he’d have to disagree (video above) but loved his player’s enthusiasm.
So how does Jones get Tennessee ready for a championship run?
“I always keep a journal, (and) I’ve kept a journal now for nine years of things you learn,” said Jones, who was head coach at Central Michigan and Cincinnati before taking over the Tennessee program before the 2013 season. “I even have a journal as an assistant coach, and then I have training camp manuals, and each day I’ll write down the thoughts on my mind and where we’re at as a team.”
Jones said he makes time for introspection each night, reviewing the day’s activities and how he might have gone about things differently.
“The big thing in our profession, especially as a head coach, is the ability to adapt and adjust to your team,” Jones said. “No two teams are ever the same, from the leadership to the maturity to the dynamics of the team.
“You have to be willing to adjust — never compromise your standards and expectations — but there may be little ways of doing things differently.”
Jones said Team 120 is different in its own ways, from its leadership, to an incoming freshman class that received better than a 3.0 grade point average over the summer and already is picking up on things.
Jones said former UT safety Deon Grant — one of the heroes of the 1998 national championship season — will be back in Knoxville to address the team Saturday. Inky Johnson, now a motivational speaker after playing for the Vols, also will speak to the team before the start of the season.
“I think it’s important we bring back former players that have lived this program, played at a high level,” Jones said, “just to be around our players and talk about communication and teamwork and all of those things that are associated with that.”
As good as Tennessee has looked in the early goings of fall camp, Jones said there’s plenty of work left to be done.
“I talked about when the preseason started that you have to reinvent yourself and be a better version of you each and every year,” Jones, 48, said. “And I think it’s listening to your players needs, and then them understand this is how will you get them to their goals and dreams and aspirations, and there’s different ways of doing it.
“I don’t just change to change, but I do think you have to adapt and adjust to the personalities of your organization.”
Mike Griffith covers Tennessee for SEC Country and lives in Knoxville.