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 is clearly a coach with a consistent message, and even if most Tennessee fans have heard it dozens of times over the last 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 Derek Dooley provided the Richard Nixonian quote about not having the Vols to “kick around” anymore, 2013 was a fairly uneventful debut in Hoover.
Jones was asked about the Vols’ losing streak against Florida and the ascent of bitter rival Alabama.
"We have to get back to being relevant and winning those football games,” Jones said.
The players accompanied Jones to 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?”
Senior defensive end Jacques Smith said Jones had helped the Vols’ take ownership of their impressive tradition and heritage.
“That’s why I’m wearing this orange jacket,” said Smith, pointing at his blazer. “It pops out at you.”
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."