New football hires show importance of familiarity, trust

New hires have ties to Jones, Hart

Nearly 20 years ago, when Butch Jones was a young college assistant on the recruiting trail, he always looked forward to visiting Bob Welton’s high school on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Welton was detail-oriented and organized. His players were smart and well-coached.“I knew the type of player I would be recruiting,” Jones told the News Sentinel.

A friendship developed between the two coaches, who stayed in contact even while Welton’s career path took him to the NFL and Jones became a highly sought-after head coach.

Last month, Jones hired Welton to be the Vols’ new director of player personnel, hoping to leverage Welton’s extensive scouting and evaluation experience in Tennessee’s recruiting department.

“I know him. I trust him,” Jones said. “You want to bring people into your football program who understand your values and standards. He does.”

Welton was one of two important additions in the football wing of UT’s athletic complex. Mike Vollmar, a Michigan native who worked closely with Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart when they were at Alabama, was hired as UT’s senior associate athletic director in charge of football.

Vollmar replaces David Blackburn, who was hired as the new AD at Tennessee-Chattanooga.

Blackburn, who had an office near Jones and the other football coaches, worked closely with Jones and served as a liaison between Hart and the football program.

“In our business, he’s known as the best there is at his job,” Jones said. “Dave knows what he’s all about, and I know what he’s all about.”

Vollmar will make $170,000, according to UT, the same salary paid to Blackburn. Vollmar made $155,000 at Alabama, according to published reports, and $127,000 at his last position at Michigan, according to a public records database.

Jones is only six months into his tenure as Tennessee’s head coach, but the hiring of Welton could reflect a new direction for the Vols’ recruiting offices.J.R. Sandlin, who was given the title “director of recruiting” when he was hired by Jones from Alabama in December 2012, left the program abruptly in April.

Although Welton wasn’t brought in specifically as a replacement for Sandlin, his hiring indicates that Jones sought an experienced talent evaluator as much as an administrator. Sandlin earned $55,000 annually at UT, according to salary figures provided to the News Sentinel earlier this year. Welton will make $120,000.

Welton’s ties to Jones are also important. Changes during Jones’ tenure at UT have reinforced the importance of relationships in the coaching business. Former UT player Jay Graham, who had been retained by Jones as running backs coach, left for Florida State after National Signing Day largely because of his close relationship with FSU assistant Randy Sanders.

Many big football programs have bolstered their recruiting staffs to serve as de facto personnel offices in the mold of NFL teams. Proposed rules changes also promised to expand the role of non-coaching staff members by relaxing some of the restrictions on contacting prospects.

However, many of those changes were tabled and are unlikely to affect the NCAA rule book. That has left many recruiting departments in limbo.Jones said he’s not worried about his administrative team, which includes Brad Pendergrass, the director of football operations, and Scott Altizer, director of high school relations.

“I like the infrastructure that we have in place,” Jones said. “We are very aware of the possible rule changes, but whether they ultimately happen or not, I like the way we’re set up.”

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

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Comments » 25

VolGrad writes:

"Sounds" like some good hires.

Just want to see those SEC Championships again. Been way too freaking long.

Go VolS! This is Big Orange Country!!!

lemme_axya_this writes:

Those who criticized Coach Dooley for hiring coaches that abruptly left last year will surely appreciate Coach Jones hiring men he knows he can trust.

thevoice writes:

in response to lemme_axya_this:

Those who criticized Coach Dooley for hiring coaches that abruptly left last year will surely appreciate Coach Jones hiring men he knows he can trust.

Yep. This guy is so much more well-connected than his predecessor!

RoadTrip writes:

Ready or not, Butchball, here we come.

Orange_Beach writes:

I can't recall Butch Jones being a highly sought after coach. He wasn't even the first choice when a spiraling out of control UThug hired him away from powerhouse Cincy team.

Ayres_Hall writes:

in response to Orange_Beach:

I can't recall Butch Jones being a highly sought after coach. He wasn't even the first choice when a spiraling out of control UThug hired him away from powerhouse Cincy team.

No? Do you recall how Bama is the most penalized football program in NCAA history? And that Bama fans are notorious for their criminal activity on other fans and their property?

Can you say Logan Young or Harvey Updyke?

Chappy writes:

in response to Orange_Beach:

I can't recall Butch Jones being a highly sought after coach. He wasn't even the first choice when a spiraling out of control UThug hired him away from powerhouse Cincy team.

Well that didn't take long.

MetroplexMojo writes:

Please help control the troll population. Keep the trolls spayed or neutered (by not responding to them).

RealisticVol writes:

in response to Orange_Beach:

I can't recall Butch Jones being a highly sought after coach. He wasn't even the first choice when a spiraling out of control UThug hired him away from powerhouse Cincy team.

Yaawwnn. You must be a Florida fan. You are not classy enough to be an Alabama fan.

antonio14313 writes:

no wonder we can't pay players. ;)

it sounds like coach jones is surrounding himself with people that he's worked with before. team! everyone knows their roles. go vols.

t

pcorange writes:

in response to Orange_Beach:

I can't recall Butch Jones being a highly sought after coach. He wasn't even the first choice when a spiraling out of control UThug hired him away from powerhouse Cincy team.

Please, just shut up.

ConcernedaboutUT writes:

Hope Coach Jones does great...however, Sal Sunseri had Dave Hart ties...Sandlin had Dave Hart ties.

Does anyone see a pattern?

volboy81 writes:

This site needs a "like" and an "ignore" button like VOL NATION has. Ive ignored several people there and now I never know they exist!

I think some bummers and lizards are getting worried because they know we're on our way back. If they ain't skeered, they need to be.

Snapshot writes:

in response to volboy81:

This site needs a "like" and an "ignore" button like VOL NATION has. Ive ignored several people there and now I never know they exist!

I think some bummers and lizards are getting worried because they know we're on our way back. If they ain't skeered, they need to be.

"Suggest removal" is the best option for the trolls, volboy81. Use it often!

rtrchatt writes:

in response to Ayres_Hall:

No? Do you recall how Bama is the most penalized football program in NCAA history? And that Bama fans are notorious for their criminal activity on other fans and their property?

Can you say Logan Young or Harvey Updyke?

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

UTvols33 writes:

Geez, why can't you all just comment about the article? Why does it have to Hart, AGAIN, and why are there so many fans of other teams on this blog? What a bunch of losers.

UTvols33 writes:

in response to rtrchatt:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hey man, Bama is good, winning championships, great recruiting, why the hell do you even care about what goes on at UT? Go away.

utvolfan1955 writes:

in response to Orange_Beach:

I can't recall Butch Jones being a highly sought after coach. He wasn't even the first choice when a spiraling out of control UThug hired him away from powerhouse Cincy team.

CBJ may not have been the first choice but up to this point he looks like the right choice

bUTch_please writes:

in response to utvolfan1955:

CBJ may not have been the first choice but up to this point he looks like the right choice

+1

VolYork45 writes:

in response to utvolfan1955:

CBJ may not have been the first choice but up to this point he looks like the right choice

bingo! Go Vols!!!!

Volunteer-Varmint writes:

in response to volboy81:

This site needs a "like" and an "ignore" button like VOL NATION has. Ive ignored several people there and now I never know they exist!

I think some bummers and lizards are getting worried because they know we're on our way back. If they ain't skeered, they need to be.

If people really want to get away from the mullet loving toothless redneck and the lizard lovers, try govols247.com. True sports journalism at its best! No John Adams, Surfer boy kitten, UF or UA junk for 1000s of clicks!

Go Vols!

Orange_Beach writes:

in response to Ayres_Hall:

No? Do you recall how Bama is the most penalized football program in NCAA history? And that Bama fans are notorious for their criminal activity on other fans and their property?

Can you say Logan Young or Harvey Updyke?

Yeah and I can say Linda Bensel-Meyer too. Can you say bowl game? Oh I forgot you have most likely forgotten about those. Maybe UThug might muster up enough guts to win two SEC games this year.

snuffysmiff writes:

in response to Ayres_Hall:

No? Do you recall how Bama is the most penalized football program in NCAA history? And that Bama fans are notorious for their criminal activity on other fans and their property?

Can you say Logan Young or Harvey Updyke?

You left out Brian Downing.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to ConcernedaboutUT:

Hope Coach Jones does great...however, Sal Sunseri had Dave Hart ties...Sandlin had Dave Hart ties.

Does anyone see a pattern?

Yeah, gotta say, amid all the happy talk about how well Jones knows and how much he trusts Weldon, to me the real lead in that story was this Vollmar guy from Bama who seems to be installed as Hart's eyes and ears on the FB program. I did not sense any such happy talk about Jones' relationship with Vollmar. Hart hired Jones, which looks like, well, not too bad a start. No doubt Hart has a lot invested in all things UT football, but I'm not sure how much of that "overhead support" Jones is used to. Has there ever before even been a position of "associate athletic director for football"? Is Vollmar going to be Hart's gatekeeper, the guy Jones has to go through to get to Hart, let alone the rest of the administration and the wider university community? It will be interesting going forward to see how that relationship pans out.

OrangeMike writes:

in response to My_God_A_Freshman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

To quote Jenny, "Are you stupid?"

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