Butch Jones stays on message as Vols sing his praises at SEC Media Days

Richardson promises no more losses to Vandy

Tennessee player Jacques Smith talks with reporters during the Southeastern Conference football Media Days in Hoover, Ala., Wednesday, July 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Photo by Dave Martin

Tennessee player Jacques Smith talks with reporters during the Southeastern Conference football Media Days in Hoover, Ala., Wednesday, July 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Antonio 'Tiny' Richardson at SEC Media Days

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HOOVER, Ala. — Butch Jones had spent no more than a minute at the podium of the main media room Wednesday at SEC Media Days when he dropped his favorite slogan and 2013 theme.

Brick by brick.

Jones has nothing if not a consistent message, and even if most Tennessee fans have heard it dozens of times during the past eight months, it was at least somewhat new to the hundreds of media in attendance this week at the Hyatt Regency-Wynfrey Hotel in suburban Birmingham.

“It’s not a fancy slogan,” Jones said of the brick-by-brick theme, which is usually accompanied by a hashtag in his Twitter messages. “Every brick is symbolic of our football family.”

Jones arrived at the podium about 20 minutes behind schedule, but had a relatively short stay. There were no controversial questions asked or major news provided.

Unlike a year ago, when former coach Derek Dooley channeled Richard Nixon with his quote about the SEC not having the Vols to “kick around” anymore, 2013 was a fairly uneventful debut in Hoover for Jones.

Asked about the Vols’ losing streak against Florida and the ascent of bitter rival Alabama,

Jones said the Vols would have to make strides to get back to the league’s top tier.

“We have to get back to being relevant and winning those football games,” Jones said.

The players accompanied Jones to SEC Media Days were more direct.

“Before ’Bama turned it around, they were terrible,” said junior offensive lineman Antonio “Tiny” Richardson. “So why can’t we be the next team that blows up?”

The Vols finished 5-7 a year ago, including an embarrassing loss at Vanderbilt that ended Dooley’s tenure. Richardson praised Dooley as a “good coach,” but resolved that the days of losing to Vandy were over.

“That won’t happen again,” he said. “I promise you that.”

While quarterback Tyler Bray and receiver Justin Hunter were the face of the Vols a year ago, three linemen — Richardson, Ja’Wuan James and Jacques Smith — accompanied Jones to Hoover on Wednesday.

“I think that shows you our strength is the offensive and defensive line,” Richardson said.

The big linemen crammed into a private jet in Knoxville for the short flight to Alabama, a bonding experience that Jones described as like a “family vacation.”

Upon arrival, the players were happy to sing the praises of their new coach.

James marveled at the progress his coach had made in a few months.

“I call him ‘super star,’ ” James said. “I feel like the whole world loves him.”

Richardson said the enthusiasm is genuine.

“I’ve never had a coach who texted me at random just to talk,” he said. “I was thinking, ‘Am I in trouble?’ ”

Smith was even more gushy.

“He’s won the heart of every single fan and probably all of y’all’s hearts, too,” Smith said to reporters.

Well, perhaps not. The crowd in Hoover is a tad more cynical, and unless Jones can start wisecracking like South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier or shooting from hip like Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, he’s unlikely to be a star until Tennessee starts winning football games.

On that point, Jones has been forced to temper the enthusiasm with reality.

“We can’t worry about the end result right now,” Jones said. “We have to focus on the process. We have to be a better football team and a better football program minute by minute, hour by hour, day to day, month by month.”

Brick by brick?

“If we just have that focus throughout the course of a long season,” Jones said, “we’ll like our body of work when the season concludes.”

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

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Comments » 10

sameolvolalum writes:

Kiffin was full of surprises. Dooley was full of disappointments. Third time hopefully being charm, Butch Jones is full of promise. Unlike a lot of you younger spoiled trolls and knee jerkers, most of us older Vol fans have grown to realize that patience is and has always been required to achieve excellence. Challenge number one for this new generation of Vol leaders has been recruiting.....and only the most ignorant must admit that this staff has earned an A+. I'm of the mindset that pretty soon "We Are the Champions" is going to be sung along with "Rocky Top" at our wonderful Neyland. GBO!

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to sameolvolalum:

Kiffin was full of surprises. Dooley was full of disappointments. Third time hopefully being charm, Butch Jones is full of promise. Unlike a lot of you younger spoiled trolls and knee jerkers, most of us older Vol fans have grown to realize that patience is and has always been required to achieve excellence. Challenge number one for this new generation of Vol leaders has been recruiting.....and only the most ignorant must admit that this staff has earned an A+. I'm of the mindset that pretty soon "We Are the Champions" is going to be sung along with "Rocky Top" at our wonderful Neyland. GBO!

Great post..I might add to that promising remark. CBJ has me sold, and from listening to the athletes he's got them believing not just in him (and his system) he's got then believing in themselves..GBO!

taylorsvolfan writes:

I read today about Clowney talking about the QB's that are afraid of him. One thing is for sure and that is Tiny whipped his butt all game but one play. Bring it on Clowney! Tiny is waiting.

iowavol writes:

I heard James and Smith on the radio early this evening. What enthusiastic and highly articulate young men these guys were. They are very excited about getting the bad taste out of their mouths by playing hard and intense. I also think they are very realistic about the season.

Flyfisherman writes:

in response to ALWAYSSEEITTHROUGH:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Good luck to you when 9th grade starts in the fall.

orangecountyvols writes:

Flyfisherman and other Vols,

"Always a troll" is the latest troll idiot.

Just joined July 5. Anyone's guess as to who this one was before being banned?

No matter...........add the clown to the list for us to ignore.

Go Vols

DeltaCharlie3 writes:

Who?

SewaneeVolFan writes:

in response to Flyfisherman:

Good luck to you when 9th grade starts in the fall.

I hear that when they're fishing, fly fishers troll a lot.

shipperman#280095 writes:

About the only thing I saw wrong with the article was this comment:

Richardson praised Dooley as a “good coach,” but resolved that the days of losing to Vandy were over.

wharfrat writes:

Patience, patience, patience....right coaching staff is now in place, pushing all the right buttons, but it will take five recruiting classes to get back to national relevance. We do not have the money for anymore severance deals anyway. This team will play very hard and will give some good surprises along the way.
Give Dave Hart all credit for hiring a great coach.

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