Butch Jones is no stranger to taking over football programs in the month of December, then quickly building up programs and finding success. He did it at Central Michigan, he did it at Cincinnati and now he’s charged with doing the same thing at Tennessee. He’s taking the challenge head-on.
Butch Jones joined 790 The Zone in Atlanta with Mayhem in the A.M. to discuss joining the coaching ranks of the SEC, competing against SEC programs on a daily basis, how soon he can turn things around in Knoxville and his experience in taking over programs in December and building them up.
On joining the coaching ranks in the SEC:
“Every day is like competing for the Super Bowl, not only just on gameday, but in the world of recruiting on a day-to-day basis. You know what though? If you’re a competitor, you want to compete against the best. Obviously [the coaches] are the best of the best. I have tremendous amount of respect for every head football, but obviously when you look at the individuals and head coaches in this conference and what they’ve been able to accomplish, I’m going to be looking forward to the SEC meetings. … We do have a lot of work to do … but I really think the infrastructure is here to really be successful.”
More on being a competitor as a coach and looking forward to putting up his program against others in the SEC:
“When we go play, whether it’s the University of Florida, University of Georgia, South Carolina, it doesn’t matter. It comes down to our quarterback versus their quarterback, our coaches versus their coaches, our facilities versus their facilities, our fans versus their fans. And I think that’s kind of the mentality that’s in this conference. Great coaches, but also great people. I know a lot of them personally, so I look forward to competing with them.”
Realistically, what can you get done with the players that are sticking around in Knoxville to be a part of your team?:
“We’re still going through and evaluating everything. Being on the job for about 13 days now, we’ve tried to balance, obviously, hiring a championship staff, and then going out recruiting. We have a tremendous product to sell out in recruiting. It’s an opportunity for a lot of these prospective student-athletes to come in here and play as true freshmen. And then getting to know our current players.”
On working his way up the coaching ladder to get to this point:
“I think it helps because, when you take on a job like Tennessee, you never take anything for granted. I still remember being in Wilkes-Barre, Penn., being the offensive coordinator, the men’s tennis coach and the intramural director. That makes you appreciate this opportunity that much more. … The great thing is, this is our third time doing it. This isn’t our first time of taking over a program in December. We’ve done it twice; this will be our third time. … We’ve been there and we’ve done that and it’s all been pretty much the same.”