Random ruminations while wondering whatever happened to Webster Slaughter...
- Newly minted Tennessee football coach Butch Jones claims he grew up a big fan of Tennessee football. It's somewhat strange that is the case as he grew up in Michigan, in the heart of Big Ten country.
Perhaps his parents had a premonition that Jones would one day be the head football coach of the Volunteers.
Thus, the first name of B UT ch. As Steve Spurrier would say, the Vols can't spell Butch without UT.
Early speculation was that Athletics Director Dave Hart took the table scraps after other schools landed the coaches they wanted.
Fans who were investing all their chips in the Jon Gruden fairy tale were barking up the wrong tree. Gruden is, and will continue to be, an NFL coach. He will stay with ESPN until he lands the NFL job of his choice.
Louisville's Charlie Strong was Hart's first choice and he came within a whisker of landing him. Strong had a last-second change of heart and left Vol Nation in the lurch.
Since the hire, I have talked to a media member who in the course of his career has covered both coaches. In his opinion he thinks Jones is the better coach.
Time will tell. The biggest challenge is hiring a staff that has strong SEC recruiting and coaching experience. He has reached out to former Tennessee QB Tee Martin, who knows the SEC and is an up and coming young assistant. The coordinators are his top priority, especially defensive coordinator. He has already said the Vols will return to a four-man front and toss the ill-fated 3-4 disaster in the Dumpster.
I would strongly recommend Jones and his staff hit the pavement at a fever pitch. They need to stop by every high school in the state, because a lot of high school coaches felt disconnected with Derek Dooley and his staff. Most coaches won't have any SEC recruits, but when they do, they need to have a connection on the Hill with a Tennessee assistant and B-UT-ch Jones.
You can tell Jones has the work ethic and players will like playing for him. He will hold them accountable on and off the field and in the classroom.
True enough, he enters the fray with a team that is fourth or fifth best in the SEC East. And next year's schedule is beyond brutal.
It didn't bother Jones that he was UT's second, third or fourth choice.
"I was my wife's third choice and that's worked out pretty well for 20 years,'' Jones quipped.
He won the press conference. Now he has to take it to the field.