John Adams: Butch Jones becomes a more colorful recruiter

John Adams

So what do you call this team now? The Big Orange and Gray?

And what’s next? Do you change the checkerboard end zones to pinstripes? Does Smokey don a hoodie? Do you add an eighth maxim to General Neyland’s seven?

Tennessee’s new alternative uniforms were revealed at Thursday’s media day. And a generation of fans cringed en masse.

The first samples modeled by players offered only subtle changes to the conventional orange-and-white attire. The fifth was dressed to kill any traditionalist in the crowd.

The helmet was mainly white. The trim was orange.

But the uniform was predominantly gray.

First-year UT coach Butch Jones called it “smokey” gray, as though the mascot tie-in dulled the dagger that had just been stuck in the heart of every UT traditionalist. He also mentioned that the 1914 Tennessee team wore gray, as if the Vols were merely recycling some old clothes they found in the closet.

It was a sudden switch for a man who has been selling tradition ever since he arrived on Rocky Top. Now, he’s selling tradition and new uniforms.

And he might be good enough to pull it off. Time and the won-loss record will tell.

If the Vols aren’t winning big in a couple of years, Jones will be cast as a clueless maverick who couldn’t figure out UT is a traditional program that cloaks itself in orange and white with no exceptions.

He will be the gray dullard who sold out UT’s tradition to help sell recruits. Some will say he colored himself out of a job.

But suppose today’s seven-loss program becomes a 10-game winner. Then, Jones becomes the creative genius who was rewarded for his daring change of hue.

It’s supposed to help recruiting, you are told. Well, what if it really does?

Perhaps, the five-star quarterback who yawned in the face of orange and white will be bedazzled by the orange and gray.

If you could sign five-star quarterbacks with regularity, would you really care what color your team wore?

A segment of UT fans would. They still haven’t recovered from the rush-order Halloween black jerseys former Lane Kiffin put on the Vols for their 2009 game with South Carolina.

Never mind if the Vols rarely have looked better at any other time in the last five seasons. Some hated Kiffin almost as much for the black jerseys as for his rude departure.

But the program needed a change then. It still does.

The Vols have lost seven games in four of the last five seasons. They have even fallen behind Vanderbilt and its hip coach, James Franklin.

So far, the hiring of Jones has been a change for the better. The fan base has been revitalized by how well he and his staff have recruited for 2014.

That recruiting success makes the display of gray more acceptable to many.

Fans also can rationalize that an alternative uniform isn’t a drastic switch, just a tweak of tradition that’s designed to make the future better than the recent past. Moreover, Jones promises the Vols will wear them only once a year.

Here’s something else to consider, though: The orange and gray look really sharp together. As an added bonus, someone in the upper deck of Neyland Stadium should be able to decipher the numbers and names without a telescope.

And if orange and gray are both prettier and clearer, why would you keep them on the bench for most of the season? You don’t do that with your running backs and quarterbacks.

That’s not to suggest the Vols should drop their orange and white uniforms altogether. They could still break them out for an occasional non-conference game — as long as they run it by recruits first, of course.

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Comments » 26

GoVols_16 writes:

Just win, Baby....

GoVols_16 writes:

...and I like the new uniforms.

BolivrBob writes:

in response to GoVols_16:

...and I like the new uniforms.

Me too!

Caspian writes:

Like the gray change of pace. Typical snarky Adams. In the 6 inches between his ears, he is impressed with how cute and provocative he is.

Volborn writes:

I have a feeling the Ducks are going to wear neon yellow on yellow and the Vols will break out the Gray's. White helmets don't seem to match the uniform though. My favorite was the white on white road uniform.

dakota10902 writes:

Does anyone remember a company called Kodak? Kodak was a company that held on to its tradition too, and was scared to change. IBM used to be the powerhouse of the technology field and in the 80s and 90s was too slow to keep up with the latest trends in the market. I believe this is the situation here. Keep Up with the market, I love It. Go Butch Jones and Go Vols.

sly_stone99#434111 writes:

Helmet needs to change to match up with the uni. A gray helmet with the power T. Now we're talking.

rockytopwestone writes:

in response to sly_stone99#434111:

Helmet needs to change to match up with the uni. A gray helmet with the power T. Now we're talking.

A few months ago I saw a photo of a black helmet with a orange power T outlined in white. It was really sharp looking !

vol98champ writes:

We have 4 targets in the top 300 who have UT projected as the eventual winner. If this pushes them to commit and solidifies the committed 24, I love the change. Kodak fought change and died. My work career covered over 50 years at several jobs. The only constant for every one of them was change. GO VOLS!

SandySpringsVol writes:

in response to dakota10902:

Does anyone remember a company called Kodak? Kodak was a company that held on to its tradition too, and was scared to change. IBM used to be the powerhouse of the technology field and in the 80s and 90s was too slow to keep up with the latest trends in the market. I believe this is the situation here. Keep Up with the market, I love It. Go Butch Jones and Go Vols.

Right on the money with Kodak, but IBM still has over $100 billion in sales and employs more than 400,000 people.

Regardless, I like the new unitforms and the new attitude that seems to be coming along with them.

Couchdummy writes:

I love the new uniform color change! Another really good move would be to can "Rocky Top". It is so corny and makes us look like stupid hicks on national television----especially if we are trailing by 21 points with 1 minute remaining when we score.

sameolvolalum writes:

In 1958 my dad didn't take my Uncle Ted's advise to invest in this up-and-coming company just listed on the stock exchange. He thought it would be silly to invest in some outfit that's name started and ended with "X's."

brokebackvol writes:

hate 'em.

dakota10902 writes:

Ha Xerox. IBM is only lately catching back up to Microsoft. They should have never fallen behind. (vanderbilt)(kentucky)(south carolina)etc. In 1993, IBM posted what at the time was the biggest loss in the history of corporate America: US$8 billion. Do you know how they fixed it? Change!

iBEAM writes:

Gray is one of the 3 (yes, 3) main official colors in the branding of UT. and, guess what? that shade is called "Smokey" (PMS 426, to be precise). This Smokey gray was not just made up by Butch Jones. furthermore, it appears there will be 5 uni combinations this fall, 4 of those are tradtional orange and/or white. people are going nuts over a uniform color that will be worn once or twice this season.

iBEAM writes:

one more thing: i love the PMS 426 Smokey Gray; it's sharp!

NashvillePreds writes:

Rambling garbage from JA.
Surprise, surprise.

Go Vols

tate42VFL writes:

It looks good and it will get us more recruits! GO GBG-O! If the team in 1914 wore them and went undefeated shouldn't we be wearing them all the time! Just saying!

jdogg44 writes:

I like 'em

johnlg00 writes:

I'm somewhat surprised at the preponderance of positive responses to the new unis. Maybe the "haters" posted on the other article about them. I usually think of myself as a tranditionalist when it comes to unis, fight songs, and such, but I think the unis look sharp. I do agree with those who think some other color than white for the helmets would go better with the grey unis. Wouldn't want to see those unis all the time, but once a year wouldn't hurt, IMHO. Of course, I sorta liked the black ones, too.

tovolny writes:

What if colors changed as much as John Adam's opinions and recollections of his opinions? We would be called the Rainbow Warriors. However, what he said in this piece was probably something that needed to be said. Most teams have more than two official colors. The colors that the Pride of the Southland Band wear are all official colors. The sky blue that trims the LadyVols uniforms looks cool. The band uses something similar to navy blue...why does nobody ever complain about their colors? I can see how recruits might get turned on by the uniforms because it relates a savage like excitement. HOWEVER, if the NEON DUCKS would get shot out of the sky wearing their neon getups by the Vols in their white duds, the flash of the situation would be dulled for fowls showing how they looked instead of how they played.

But really now in regards to uniform colors...let's just say:"FRANKLY DEAR, I DON'T GIVE A QUACK."

BayLee writes:

I like the alternative uni's and I agree with others that the helmet should complement the smokey gray. Its a good shade of gray that is original, not the silver britches of those UGA-ly inferior pooches from peanut land. The orange and gray go well together.
For the helmets, how about solid Tennessee orange with a gray stripe and white power T? Or White stripe and smokey gray power T? I think I would prefer either over the white w/ orange.

BayLee writes:

One other thought, please just don't cop out and replace the power T with a script Vols (looking at you Florida) or script abbreviation of Tennessee (looking at you Ole Miss). That power T is instantly recognizable, whether in smokey gray, orange or white.

coach799 writes:

What's the big fuss about. Before we had a color TV, our Vols looked grey and white when they were on at our house.


allvol32 writes:

I'm 55, a TN grad and a traditionalist. I think the new uniforms are great, I really like the look.

Although updated these uniforms won't ever be mistaken for any other team nor will anyone wonder who is playing if they turn on the TV and TN is playing.

I think JA (shock!) is trying to stir up a little controversy here - hard to imagine I know.

The NS poll shows that only 23% of respondents don't like the uniform. Looks like the fan base likes the new uniforms.

edee writes:

Since when is changing the color of a jersey a change for the program

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