Butch Jones' first Tennessee coaching staff introduced to public

Tennessee defensive coordinator and linebackers coach John Jancek talks with the media at the Neyland-Thompson Sports Complex Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, Knoxville News Sentinel

Tennessee defensive coordinator and linebackers coach John Jancek talks with the media at the Neyland-Thompson Sports Complex Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

One coach was back in Cincinnati, preparing for a bowl game. Another was in Wisconsin, stuck in snow.

But every other member of Butch Jones’ first Tennessee coaching staff was in town today, meeting with the media and giving their first public comments since the staff was finalized this weekend.

The consensus?

“Our energy level is at an all-time high,” said new offensive line coach Don Mahoney.

Jones brought five coaches, including Mahoney, from his staff at Cincinnati. He added Tommy Thigpen and Willie Martinez from the dismissed staff at Auburn. Running backs coach Jay Graham was retained from Derek Dooley’s 2012 staff. The last hire, receivers coach Zach Azzanni, is coming from Wisconsin.

“Continuity is huge in a coaching staff. We’re familiar with each, we know the day-to-day operations and that comfort level extends to the players,” said defensive coordinator John Jancek, who spent the last three years with Jones at Cincinnati.

Coaches said the focus since their hiring had been almost exclusively on recruiting, so time to evaluate the current roster has been limited.

But speaking generally, many said that developing depth would be crucial in the spring and summer.

“We’ve got a group of guys up front who have played a lot of football together,” Mahoney said of his line. “Behind them, we have to improve our depth.”

Jancek said the same of his linemen, who will be playing in a defense that is transitioning back to a 4-3 set (four linemen, three linebackers) after one rocky year in the 3-4 (three linemen, four linebackers).

Jancek said Thigpen would coach linebackers, not cornerbacks as was originally announced. Jancek said he would be a “walk-around,” coordinator, meaning he works without different position groupings throughout practice while supervising the entire defense. Willie Martinez, originally identified as safeties coach, will handle the entire secondary.

Thigpen said he was finally getting a chance to study his new crew.

“Our first focus was not falling behind in recruiting,” Thigpen said. “I’m taking all the tapes back home with me to watch over Christmas.”

In addition to the on-field coaches, strength coach Dave Lawson also followed Jones from Cincinnati.

“This is not a strength coach,” said Lawson, pointing to his starched shirt and slacks. “A strength coach is wearing shorts, a pullover and running shoes with a whistle around his neck. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.

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Comments » 26

albert63 writes:

First, who?

voloffaith writes:

in response to albert63:

First, who?

No the who's are in the Grinch stole CHRISTmas..........

StoneJackBaller writes:

Well, let's hope these guys can get it done. Jones has already shown what a class act he is in meeting with letter winners and opening things up to former players. He's making Dooley look like a chump. Let's see how he recruits.

globalroamer writes:

THIS is the best staff in college football....period? (Jones's promise from the press conference)

CantStandCantStandSaban writes:

Our new OC looks like he's related to Michael Stipe.

Shake_Bake writes:

At this point all we can do is hope and pray these guys know how to get it done. The upcoming recruiting will tell us a lot! A lot of college football games are won or lost in the months of January and February, based upon the recruiting. We will need fresh ofsensive talent since the big three look like they are bound for the NFL.

pcorange writes:

in response to Shake_Bake:

At this point all we can do is hope and pray these guys know how to get it done. The upcoming recruiting will tell us a lot! A lot of college football games are won or lost in the months of January and February, based upon the recruiting. We will need fresh ofsensive talent since the big three look like they are bound for the NFL.

I think we're going to have to start winning some football games and get back in the rankings before you're going to see recruiting get a whole lot better. 5* recruits want to play for a winner. What we need is coaches that can coach 3* players to wins over better teams, then the recruiting will start to take care of itself. Let's hope we have those coaches.

secondcreek writes:

Looking forward to the 2013 season!

huntined#565710 writes:

From the looks of these guys they wont be pulling any hair out next year as they don't have any left...

volhome#407234 writes:

in response to huntined#565710:

From the looks of these guys they wont be pulling any hair out next year as they don't have any left...

And the point is? Some of us were 'blessed' with hair that decided to depart its roost on the head in our twenties. I don't remember a single hair on or off a person's head deciding the outcome of a game, so big whoop-de-do if our staff has hair, or not. What they need to have is the ability to: A/Recruit and B/Coach. As Stan Lee taught us, "'Nuff said".

69grad writes:

All of these guys knew what they were getting into with the fan base at UT. If they thought they were going to be one-year wonders, they would have held on to to their current jobs (with the exception of the Auburn coach). I like what I have seen and read about Jones and his staff. We just need to stay positive and support the coaches and players.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to huntined#565710:

From the looks of these guys they wont be pulling any hair out next year as they don't have any left...

Well, I think Battle and Dooley both had full heads of hair, but Phil Fulmer was balding..I guess that really doesn't matter unless you're a hair stylist?

Playsomeorange writes:

Did the Vols hire Paul Finebaum? Looks like him, scary! lol

DeltaCharlie3 writes:

I thought the Benny Hill music playing in the background was a nice touch.

ACWLY writes:

The NEW energy level feels great! Yes it's going to take a while and we all understand that, but this new coaching regime feels right to me, time will tell.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie3:

I thought the Benny Hill music playing in the background was a nice touch.

Is that theme music from Benny Hill Griffen stadium??

tnoutlaw2001#228008 writes:

in response to globalroamer:

THIS is the best staff in college football....period? (Jones's promise from the press conference)

Name one better, then list off the assistants with experience and how many jobs they jumped to and from to get to where they are now.

We all know how retreads from other coaching trees work, so please be the one person to enlighten everyone else.

Show-me-your-TDs writes:

in response to Shake_Bake:

At this point all we can do is hope and pray these guys know how to get it done. The upcoming recruiting will tell us a lot! A lot of college football games are won or lost in the months of January and February, based upon the recruiting. We will need fresh ofsensive talent since the big three look like they are bound for the NFL.

44th place in recruiting...NOT looking good for the home team
On another note:
looks like the Jets are calling Bray up to the bigs

lemme_axya_this writes:

in response to CantStandCantStandSaban:

Our new OC looks like he's related to Michael Stipe.

Maybe he'll be singing "Orange Crush" by this time next year.

SevenT writes:

And the new UT staff gets together to analyze the UT roster Doofus left and the consensus is:

We are small, weak and slow and we are going to suck again next season!

lemme_axya_this writes:

in response to SevenT:

And the new UT staff gets together to analyze the UT roster Doofus left and the consensus is:

We are small, weak and slow and we are going to suck again next season!

This small, weak, and slow team violated the little blue fellers a few weeks ago. Thankfully, we don't judge ourselves based on success against teams like KY. Watch our new coach, the one who wanted nothing to do with Ky., re-establish UT as a national power. It will happen.

VolGrad writes:

I always feel so enlightened once I've read the comments (tic).

Go Vols!

Millisa writes:

Boys time to get to work and get down to business. Go Vols :) :) :)

scvols writes:

Recruit, recruit, recruit. They can be the best coaching staff, but you have to recruit like Fulmer to win SEC rings.

traderjoe writes:

It takes fire in the belly to work the recruiting trail hard. It's a hard grind dealing with young men with big egos and lots of choices. Coach Jones looks like he has that fire. Based on their pics, it's hard to make that assumption about the rest of the staff. Time will tell.

punkin writes:

in response to SevenT:

And the new UT staff gets together to analyze the UT roster Doofus left and the consensus is:

We are small, weak and slow and we are going to suck again next season!

I guess you're still crying over the Tennessean banning you? Aren't there any papers in KY where you can post your drivel? Since most people in KY can't read it would'nt matter.

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