NASHVILLE - First-year Tennessee coach Butch Jones told a crowd of boosters here at the downtown Hilton that he planned to stay will the Vols as long as UT would have him.
“I pray every day I’m going to be here forever,” Jones said. “You guys may get tired of me in about 30 years.”
Jones and his nine assistant coaches started the day in Memphis, moved on to Nashville for a luncheon and will finish the day at Neyland Stadium this evening. All events are sold out.
His message to fans in Nashville was much the same it was in West Tennessee: “We’re going to own this state. Keep spreading that orange pride loud and proud in Nashville.”
Every assistant spent time on the stage and talked about their recruits as highlight reels played in the background.
The coaches also talked about their family and personal background, including the challenges of the last two months.
“Coach Jones was hired on a Friday and on a Sunday we got on a plane and moved to Knoxville,” said offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian.
Receivers coach Zach Azzanni, who coached at Wisconsin in 2012, said he flew home to snow-filled Madison after the Badgers lost the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1. He tucked in his young daughters and headed to Knoxville the next morning.
“That’s the last time I’ve seen them,” said Azzanni, drawing sympathetic ahhs from the crowd.
Jones, who plans to visit his wife and kids in Cincinnati later this week, said he hopes his family is able to move down to Knoxville this spring.
Follow Tennessee’s tour through the state at http://twitter.com/TennesseeBeat and read the News Sentinel for a behind-the-scenes look at the trip on Friday and Sunday.