Mike Strange: Butch Jones has turned team over to players

Mike Strange
Amy Smotherman Burgess/News Sentinel
Tennessee coach Butch Jones, left, talks with wide receiver Jason Croom, center, between plays last Saturday during a scrimmage at Neyland Stadium.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Amy Smotherman Burgess/News Sentinel Tennessee coach Butch Jones, left, talks with wide receiver Jason Croom, center, between plays last Saturday during a scrimmage at Neyland Stadium.

Butch Jones on his message to Tennessee fans

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As much as Tennessee fans wish it were otherwise, their football team cannot compare in talent or depth with several of its SEC opponents.

Said another way, on the field, the Vols are behind.

However, there are areas where Tennessee can look Alabama in the eye.

This is exactly the time of year when the Vols can outshine anyone.

“We use the term TNT, Takes No Talent,’’ coach Butch Jones said Monday between swings of a golf tournament at Willow Creek that raised $240,000 for Variety, the Regal Cinemas charity.

As in it takes no talent to be a master of the intangibles. It takes no talent to be a team leader.

I know, I know. You’d rather read about how Jones plans to attack Georgia on third-and-6 on Oct. 5. But that can wait. It has to wait.

This is May. Spring practice is done. The semester is finishing. Fall camp is three months away.

This is the hands-off time for Jones and his coaches, per NCAA rules. The primary supervision comes from the strength staff.

In short, it’s a nervous time for coaches, who by nature are control freaks.

That’s why Jones spent an inordinate amount of time in his first months on campus emphasizing leadership and accountability.

And it’s why he believes his Vols can and will excel between now and fall camp. TNT.

It’s not as if there is no talent. And it’s not as if Jones isn’t hoping his best players are also his best leaders. But 40 times and recruiting stars are irrelevant when it comes to building chemistry.

“Some of the best teams I’ve been a part of may not have been the most talented individually,’’ Jones said, “but as a collective unit, we were the best team.

“We have to be a team that overachieves in the way we play, our effort, our mentality, our toughness, our brotherhood.

“Those are all things we can control.’’

Only for the next few weeks and months, Jones can’t control them himself.

“Now,’’ he said, “it becomes a player-led football team.’’

Toward that end, Jones had the team vote to elect a 14-man “player staff.’’ He personally has been the lead contact with that group.

He asked them to come up with three prime goals for the offseason. They responded.

One is to be a tougher team, both mentally and physically.

Two is brotherhood, building chemistry.

“I’ve watched,’’ said Jones, “not only what we did on the field last year, (but) what was our sideline morale like, what was our demeanor, our collective spirit?’’

Three is that every individual take accountability for his own personal development over the summer.

While Jones can’t work directly with his players for now, he’s plenty busy. Recruiting momentum must be maintained. UT is off to the races with 12 commitments for 2014 already and two for 2015.

“We have a great product to sell,’’ Jones said. “So it doesn’t surprise me.’’

There’s nothing new on suspended tailback Marlin Lane. Jones is waiting on his semester grades: “Just like I am for everyone else in the program.’’

On Thursday, the Big Orange Caravan cranks up in Memphis. By now Jones is prepared for the kinds of turnouts he will see. He knows he’s not in Cincinnati anymore.

He’ll tell the crowds how he’s building a foundation, brick by brick, and they’ll love it. They’ve loved virtually everything about his first months on the job. Jones is well aware there’s a reality check ahead.

“Come the fall,’’ he said, “we have to win some games.’’

For now, though, his players have to keep building a team.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at Strangemike44.

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Comments » 30

SoFlaVol writes:

While watching the Heat play, I was just reading this article on my ipad and the thing that registered most is Butch Jones acknowledgment that "come the fall, we have to win some games". No matter how much love the fans are showing him now and with the great start in 2014 recruiting, what's not to love, the reality comes with the tough SEC schedule this fall. I only hope fans will give him time to truly turn things around. I believe we have a good coach so let's be patient this time and not raise expectations to an unrealistic level.

Show-me-your-TDs writes:

I was wondering if the strength coach can video tape players practices... and then turn these taped practices into coach Jones for tweaking?

dvhill100 writes:

We will see how bad the players want to win. If they do what has been laid out for them, they will be a vastly immproved team this fall. If they coast during the summer, it will be business as usual like the last three years. The coaches have done all they can until fall. Now the players have to step up, take ownership and be ready.

NashvillePreds writes:

V-O-L-S
Go Vols Go

VolinCalif writes:

in response to Show-me-your-TDs:

I was wondering if the strength coach can video tape players practices... and then turn these taped practices into coach Jones for tweaking?

Wondering the same thing, I have heard it answered both ways. If there is a restriction I would think it would be the coaches response to the player viewing. With today's elect timing resopnse and Video ablity that could almost be a real time coaches task.

RedBoilingSpringsVol writes:

This a preemptive strike. jeffy, walt and all other trolls STFU!

vol49 writes:

Go Vols!

tractoronthepole writes:

in response to Johnny_Aint_No_Del_Shofner:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Pepe Le Pew your back and as usual you smell the place up with negativity. I hope those around you dont have to suffer the stinch you bless us with. If you don't already know the URL Bama has a site for you, go jump on and roll tide.

pingkr62 writes:

CBJ continues to do things the right way. At this point in preparing for the coming season, the players should know what's expected of them, and exactly what they need to work on. Let the team become a team. G.B.O.!!!

jack4444 writes:

There is SEC talent on both lines. That is where it starts.

TheGVXKing writes:

in response to Johnny_Aint_No_Del_Shofner:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Did you even read the article?

1. Strange did not say "...we lack talent!" You said that.

2. Why do you keep referencing Coach Dooley? Did you miss it? He's gone!

3. You did not "...offer the slightest evidence to the contrary..." You only offered opinions, lies, and nonsense.

4. Strange is not kicking "...Tennessee around...," you are. You are not a Vol fan.

There are absolute lies and fallacies in your post. Please correct them before you come back here and make a fool of yourself ... again. If you can't be honest, STFU.

fearthehound writes:

in response to Johnny_Aint_No_Del_Shofner:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

collegegrovebilly = Johnny_Aint_No_Del_Shofner. Notice how the former fawns all over the latter. He loves himself....'were treated to a bevy of acronyms'...ok, give me one of those 'acronyms' you were treated to, genius.

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

Just isn't a lot of talent outside the OL. Gonna take some time even with a coupla good recruiting years. 6-6 is best we can expect this year.

fearthehound writes:

in response to Johnny_Aint_No_Del_Shofner:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So, this moron never responds to people who call him out, he just has conversations with himself using different screen names. The little sissy posts on every article, yet KNS never blocks him. Wonder why.

So, little Jeffy, how about that 'bevy of acronyms' you alluded to in your earlier post? Can you give us one of your bevy of acronyms you endured--LOL?

BillsBrother writes:

I think Johnny Del Shofner must have fallen in the outhouse. He just can't get the stink off him!

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to Johnny_Aint_No_Del_Shofner:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You earned every one of those acronyms... silly troll.

gc_scvol writes:

Again, KNS writes a decent article, then either lets JANDS and CG clutter the site with their (or his) BS or does it themselves. I'm starting to think KNS is paying this clown to embarrass himself. Surely RF couldn't have a LITTLE BROTHER this fouled up. He was a great athlete and doesn't deserve to be embarrassed by a LITTLE BROTHER with such a miserable life. Read it quick folks it won't last long.

usafvol writes:

in response to collegegrovebilly:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Wow; what kind of a pathetic person posts and then comments on his own post pretending to be someone else? Dude, you really have problems. I mean, come on; what kind of a tool really does that?

JSmith525 writes:

in response to Johnny_Aint_No_Del_Shofner:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

yep, you be A number 1, You have all the knowledge of the world on your sholders. We envy you so much. We just wish that we were 1/2 as knowledgeable when it comes to our Vols football. We wish you were Head Coach of our UT Vols. now STFU!

TheGVXKing writes:

in response to Johnny_Aint_No_Del_Shofner:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Dude, again, Coach Dooley is gone. Get over it!

Totally tolerant of diverse opinions. Not tolerant of lies, nonsense, and outright bashing of Vol leadership. You guys are clearly not Vol fans.

TheGVXKing writes:

in response to collegegrovebilly:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Way to go pal. We were discussing another post and you jump in with unrelated garbage. A little desperate for attention are you?

Oh, the "predictions" by your hero? Hindsight is always 100% correct.

tractoronthepole writes:

in response to collegegrovebilly:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I don't know why so many girls get on here to bitc* but that's what girls do I guess. What does that get you? Does your negativity help build a program under a new coach that is building momentum in recruiting? Individual talent does not win games it is won by the best team.

6972 writes:

in response to RedBoilingSpringsVol:

This a preemptive strike. jeffy, walt and all other trolls STFU!

A preemptive strike.....I like that one.

VolsFanInAfghanistan writes:

Collegegrovebilly, so since you and Johnny_Aint have all the answers why are you two putting in together and becoming donors that help make the decisions that need to be made? We as fans just want someplace to come and enjoy football talk, not all the negative nancy phooey. Theres enough trolls in here trying to get a rise out of people anyway, why do our own have to sit in on it as well. I sit some 9,000+ miles away from home. I get so fed up with all the negative phooey I have to deal with here. So I come on here just to get a piece of home and some football joy from the great state of Tennessee and I can't even get that? So what that Dave Hart isn't from Tennessee, neither is Johnny_ Aint, big freaking deal. How about you two gentlemen take that phooey some where else and let the adults have this room for a bit. Like I said before, we may not be on top right now, but at least we'll go down fighting. Give it a chance. Oh and like my mother and grandmother used to say, "If you don't have something nice to say about a person, don't say anything at all". VFL GBO

gc_scvol writes:

in response to collegegrovebilly:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'm not sure what KNS is trying to accomplish on this site other than run up the numbers by letting JF ramble on and on with this DILLUSIONAL posts, but what they have acomplished is getting rid of me. I urge all of you to leave this site to the negaposters until this foolish rambling is blocked. Read it fast boys, it won't last long. AMF

TrueVOL64 writes:

Hey bs squad oops sorry I mean "truth squad" why don't y'all make up some nice shirts and hats n wear them to the opener at Neyland and see what kind of truth y'all can find in Knoxville then!!!! Of course that is if mommy will pay for the shirts, hats and tickets.... I guess that means y'all will be a no show then huh??

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

Self governing is how you win championships..Do you think Troy Aikman & Emmitt Smith didn't police the team when the coaches' weren't around? Al Wilson stayed in everyone's grille when UT won the NCAA BCSCG in 1998, it is their team and CBJ knows he's got to have leaders (especially upperclassmen) step up..GBO!!

WaltGoVoIs writes:

in response to Johnny_Aint_No_Del_Shofner:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So far Coach Jones seems to be the outlier to the destructive and incompetent leadership at the top of the University staff.

He sounds pretty good, very good in fact. There's no point getting too excited before we see his product on the field.

Walt

UT '81

dgcarter43 writes:

This coach is doing everything within his power to help this team believe in themselves and each other. That will give them the best chance to be successful on and off the field. I like his approach.

no1djkb#278630 writes:

This is just a simple question fellas. Why do you even respond to people who come on here and say crazy things? Come on now, we are adults here. You guys know they are just trying to get a rise out of you. Just let them post and keep on moving.
I would like to say something on Dave Hart. He made a mistake by hiring Coach Sal but lets face it, a lot of schools would try to hire someone that has had the chance to work for Coach Saben (hope I spelled his name right:)). Those days of hiring people off of Alabama's staff gone so now it is time to move on and lets give Mr Hart a chance. All anyone can ever hope is that the person they hire can do the job. You guys work in the corporate world. No hire is a slame dunk all the time. We all know it is hard to get the for sure person. As a football fan, you have to like the way the coach is doing things. He is excited about being here. Lets hope the team will respond to him and play hard.

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