Dave Hart: “Thank you all very much and thanks for this great turnout to welcome our new head football coach Butch Jones and his family. I’m going to begin by asking Butch if he’ll introduce, you’re going to be impressed by this because this happened at the team meeting, if he’ll introduce his lovely wife first and then let his children introduce themselves to you.
Butch Jones: “Good afternoon, I’m excited to be joining the family and I’d like to introduce my wife Barb. We’ve been married 20 years. These are my three boys, stand up and introduce yourselves.”
Alex Jones: “I’m Alex, I’m 16.”
Adam Jones: “I’m Adam, I’m 11.”
Andrew Jones: “I’m Andrew and I’m five years old.”
Butch Jones: “Andrew has already committed to Tennessee.”
Hart: “We welcome this great family to our family because they’re now part of the Vol family. In case you are somewhat unaware, we’ve been in a coaching search recently. Without much fanfare or people offering opinions, we moved through the search to a conclusion. Rarely in life is anything exactly what it seems to be. Life doesn’t always throw us fastballs. It throws us curves, then it throws some screwballs. I’m not referencing anybody here. You have to be able to adjust. I was an English teacher when I got out of college. Teaching English, I’ve always had a line from a poem, “if is a fundamental principle to live by if you’re in a leadership role.” If you can keep your head about you when all around you are losing theirs. I think that’s part of being a leader. I’m proud to begin this leadership role as vice chancellor and director of athletics at the University of Tennessee. We have the best fan base anywhere of any sport here in Knoxville. You’ll never be around a more passionate fan base than the fan base you’ll enjoy here in Knoxille. It is my pleasure to introduce the head football coach at the University of Tennessee. Butch Jones.”
HEAD COACH BUTCH JONES
“Thank you and good afternoon. It truly is an honor and a privilege to be your football coach. I’d like to thank some people obviously Chancellor Jimmy Cheek, thank you for everything. Thank you Dave for everything and giving me this wonderful opportunity to lead the best college football program in the America. I truly believe that. We’re going to do some very special things. It’s been kind of a whirlwind. I started my morning off back in Cincinnati with a 7:30 team meeting with my own coaches. I think I’d be remised if I didn’t thank everybody back at the University of Cincinnati from way back with President Santa Ono and Team 125.
Players make good coaches. I think the most amazing thing is I believe in total honesty with your players. I think if you’re honest with them, they’ll go to bat for you. I walked in the room and obviously it got deafly silent and they wanted to know what was going on. When I told them that I accepted the head coaching position at the University of Tennessee, they all started clapping and applauding. I think that’s an attribute to our program. I’d be remised if I didn’t thank them. I’m fired up because I just met my new team. I’m excited. We started in small steps to lay the foundation and the standard that’s going to be in our football program. Obviously, I’m excited to roll my sleeves up and get started. It’s our goal to give everyone the kind of football program that you can be extremely, extremely proud of. And to continue to build upon the legacy and the proud tradition that the University of Tennessee has been so proud of throughout the years. To our great and passionate fan base, and everyone here that loves this program, we’ll be working to be champions each and every day. We will be a champion in everything that we do. That’s not only on the field, but off the field. It starts in the class room. It starts graduating with a meaningful degree. It’s being a productive citizen, it’s being active in our community. That’s what winning is about. I really believe that if you win off the field, you will win on the field. We will be a champion in all we do. We will start from day one to create our culture in our players for them to understand how to succeed on a day to day basis and the standards by which they will abide by.
I’m going to start off and answer some questions but first of all, our coaching staff. I’m up here today, I can assure that we will put together the best football staff in the country. Not just the Southeastern Conference, but the entire country. I have a checklist of what I’m looking for. First of all it starts with character. I want individuals with tremendous character and then I want great teachers. Great teachers in the game of life, great teachers in the game of football. Fundamentalists, motivators. There’s a difference between teaching and presenting. Anybody can present anything. What we want is great teachers, and individuals who have passion to be here at the University of Tennessee.
To our letterwinners, you are the foundation. We will have an open door policy with our practices. You have laid the foundation for us to have much success for many years to come. I’m a firm believer that our letterwinners are the program. They will be welcomed back at any time. I look forward to getting to know everyone. I’ve had about 18 text messages from Charles Davis and I’ll probably get Peyton in trouble, but about four days ago I got a text message from Peyton Manning. He was selling me on Colorado. He said `It’s hard for a person from the University of Tennessee to selling someone to come to the University of Colorado.’ I wanted to text back `Well c’mon, let’s go. I want to go to Tennessee.’ So I look forward to obviously talking with him.
Next piece obviously as we move forward is recruiting. You win with players. Let me make no mistake that we are going to win first and foremost with the great state of Tennessee. We have tremendous high school coaches in this state. We are the state institution and we will own our state. We are going to be at every high in the state and our players are going to understand what is to wear the power T, they’re going to understand what it is to represent their home institution. I take great pride in that.
In closing, we have great, great expectations for this football program. I know we’ve built an instant gratification society. Everybody wants everything at once. I will tell you this, we’re going to inch by inch, inches make the champion. We’re going to go to work. I don’t know how long it will take, but you’re going to be proud of this football team, you’re going to be proud of this football program. I’d like to thank Derek Dooley for laying the foundation and all the coaches in the past, who have given this all for the Tennessee football family and being a part of it. I look forward to embracing all the great traditions that come with it. In closing, I will give my all for Tennessee today. Thank you and I’ll answer any questions that you may have.”
(On competing in the SEC)
“If you want to be best, you want to compete in the best and obviously the SEC is the best football conference in the country. I have many good friends that compete at this level, on the center stage and I look forward to it. I think what you have to do is look at our football staff and our body of work. Six years and four championships. The things that are valuable if the players buy into it and believe it, it’s a process. You have to look at the body of work. It hasn’t been just formed at one institution. It’s now been formed at two institutions along the way and I look forward to the third here at Tennessee. I’m extremely excited about it. I will be the first to tell you that Nick Saban and Les Miles had zero SEC experience when they came into the league, so that’s awesome.”
(On Dooley’s three years to prove himself)
“Absolutely not. This is a job. This is a football program. This is a community that I hold very high. I just won an opportunity to be the head football coach here. I’m excited about that opportunity. I think you win with consistency. You win with continuity. I believe in what we do. I believe in our players. I think this is a good foundation here. We have to go out and recruit and continue to bring in high caliber football players here in Knoxville.”
(On fan base)
“First of all our fan base and myself have the same expectations. We’re working to be the best. We’re working to be number one every day. We’re working to be national champions and we’re working to be SEC champions. This program has done it and we’ll do it again. That’s the thing when you talk about things that attract you. The Tradition that we have here is second to none. The pride that we have here is second to none. All we have to do is get a student-athlete on campus. If we get a student-athlete on campus, they should be sold. The goals, the commitment, the resources. We know what we’re doing. When I spoke with Dave in the interview, I saw a vision. You keep growing. Whether you’re a director of athletics or a head football coach, you get to paint the vision for your athletic department and your football program. That’s one of the reasons that attracted me to come here as well. I have the same expectations. Nobody puts more expectations than my wife and my three boys. If we lose a game in the Jones house, they don’t talk to me for a week. I think they all have their own blogs too.”
(On leaving Cincinnati)
“At Cincinnati, we lost more NFL productivity than any team in the country. Our players have overachieved, and I am very proud of that. I am very instinctual. I trust my gut. Taking my name out of other jobs had no bearing on the University of Tennessee. But, then they came along.
“I am very fortuane and very proud to be your head football coach.”
(On his style of play)
“We have won four championships in four years. I think that first, we are going to be a team that takes care of the football. If you look at the greatest stat as far as wins and losses, it is turnover margin.
“Offensively, we are going to be a team that takes care of the football. We are going to run a no-huddle offense. I don’t like to use the term “spread,” because I think that the word “finesse” is associated with that.
“We are going to be a physical style of offense and be a pro-style offense.
“Defensively, we are going to be a team that is going to swarm to the football and causes turnovers. We’ll be a team that doesn’t beat itself.
“We’ll do some different things. It’s building a foundation to where everybody speaks the same language, from the training room, to the eating table to our strength and conditioning to our academic settings. It’s one program and we’ll be bought into one goal. That breeds success.”
(On the next few days)
“I’ll be working 24 hours. Because of the recruiting calendar, we’ll have a long week. I’ll make contact with prospective student-athletes and work to solidify a recruiting class, and there will be some challenges involved. Plus, I want to meet with every individual. I want to talk to them and allow them to get to know me. It’ll be a busy week.”
(On the UC staff applauding upon telling them that you will be going to UT)
“Everything that we do is centered around family. It’s a brotherhood. I was very upfront and honest with our football team throughout this entire process, and we are very close.
“I don’t like to use the term “players’ coach” because I think that sounds soft by nature. I’m not. I am going to push them (the players) as hard as I can every day because my biggest regret would be that a player left the University of Tennessee and tell me that he wished that he’d be pushed a little bit harder.
“At the same time, we are going to care about the players as people. That relationship is based on respect. I told our players at Cincinnati that this was my dream job.
“I have already had verbal communication with just about every football player on that team since accepting this job. That’s just how we run our teams, and that’s how we’ll do it at Tennessee.”
(On if you had a chance to meet with the current UT team?)
Yes, I did. I sensed an excitement level. I sense a passion to want to win.
“It was a very short meeting, but it kind of let them feel my personality. We will roll up our sleeves next week, and meet one-on-one next week.”
(On the importance of hiring coaches that recruit the South)
“I’ve worked for a lot of great head coaches and with every coach I’ve come in contact with, if you can recruit, you can recruit. It doesn’t matter what school you come from or where in the country… recruiting is selling. Recruiting is a people business so I want the best teachers and best recruiters no matter where we have to go to get them. I do think it’s important that we have some coaches that know the lay of the land, but I really think if you’re a great recruiter, you can recruit anywhere because it’s all relationship based.”
(On how close he was to signing the Colorado contract)
“Barb and I sat down and really talked about it and it was a gut instinct. The people at Colorado were great, but at that point in time, we just felt that it was time to stay. Obviously, the Tennessee opportunity came about and is a tremendous opportunity as I’ve already stated about this job.”
(On if Tennessee contacted him or he contacted UT)
“They contacted me. I tried and wore them out. It’s like recruiting, you just keep working and working and you finally get through.”
(On the differences between him and the other UT candidates)
“I can’t speak of anyone else, but again, I think it’s the body of work. We’ve won four championships in six years and lost the fifth championship with seven minutes to go in the game. I think it’s the body of work and the way our teams play. From a physical style of play to a disciplined style of play to scoring points and being great with defense. I think it’s the overall body of work, but also it’s painting a vision for what you want to do. A football coach, in my opinion, is a CEO. He has to have so many roles and I think it’s also a motivation factor. Coaching is creating change and getting the most out of your players. It’s a whole conglomeration of a lot of little things adding up to big things. But I just think you look at our body of work.”
(On his pride being bruised by someone turning the job down first)
“Absolutely not… I think I was my wife’s third choice.”
(On the questions he wanted answered about the job)
“He beat me to the punch when he showed me his vision for the football program. You can look at our facilities and look at our ability to attract an upper-echelon student-athlete to come to school here. You can look at the opportunity to play in front of over 100,000 fans every gameday. I think the place speaks for itself. Obviously, we understand the tradition that is associated with this program. The other thing – when we talk about a dream job – when I was young and it was Barb and I, we would move anywhere. But when you have three children, with moving you become more selective and we thought that Knoxville would be a tremendous community to raise our boys. That also played into that part as well.”
(On a coach that has had the greatest influence on him)
“Obviously, there are a number of individuals who have really kind of helped define some of my principles. I’ve been very fortunate to work for a lot of very successful coaches – not just head coaches – but many assistant coaches who are now in the National Football League. I take a little bit from Rich Rodriguez. I take a little bit from Brian Kelly. I take a little bit from Mike DeBord, who was the head coach at Central Michigan and is now the Tight Ends coach with the Chicago Bears. But also, I think you grow friendships – the coaching profession is a very small profession – and you form relationships and bonds with certain people. Urban Meyer is a very close friend of mine. We talk a lot and we talk football. I believe in the `Can I’ principal of constant and never ending improvement. There are a lot of individuals that have really helped me. I think when you stop, is when you stop improving. You’ve got to continue to search for that inch, search for that competitive advantage whether it’s recruiting or the way your team plays, whatever it is you’re always searching for that competitive advantage.”
(On having a `Tennessee guy’ on the staff)
“I do think that’s important. It’s really important to for our players and understanding that there are some players that have been there, done that and gone through the trials and tribulations and understanding of where to go. I’m going to work extremely hard to get that component on our staff.”
(On recruiting the state of Florida)
“It’s all relationships again and we’ve recruited the state of Florida for a number of years. I’ve recruited all over. I recruited the state of Tennessee when I was at West Virginia so I’ve been here before. Again, it’s relationships, but I’ve recruited all over the country. We’re going to go where the best football is, but above everything else, we have a recruiting profile of the individual that we’re looking for here at the University of Tennessee. That stems from play specifics of height, weight, 40-time, athletic ability to their character makeup. The passion to get a college education is first and foremost. There is a whole recruiting profile that goes into it and the great thing about Tennessee is it’s a national brand. You can walk into any high school in the United States of American and when they see your shirt and your logo, they know who you are.”
(On the role he gives his coordinators)
“I have an offensive background so I’ll sit more in the offensive meetings, but I’m a CEO. I’m going to make sure we’re all on the same page – offensive, defense and special teams – but also I’m hiring a staff to do their jobs. I’m not a micro-manager. I want to know everything. You’ll see me at practice and it will be high-energy. I’m going to be involved in all three phases, but I’m not a micro-manager. I’m going to assemble the best staff in American and I’m going to let them coach.”
(On if he’ll be coaching Cincinnati in their Bowl Game)
“No… I’m going to be here working and getting ready to go.”
(On reaching out to Tee Martin)
“I’m still in that investigative stage so to speak of really trying to put together a really qualified staff. Obviously, he’s a great coach and we all understand what he’s meant to this program so he would be an individual that we would reach out to, but we’re going to reach out to a lot of people.”
(On his meeting with the team)
“I felt a great connection and an energy and passion-level. I grew up the son of a Chief of Police for 35 years… I’ve been around people. I believe in studying body language. I really believe in the human element of what makes and individual tick. I always tell our players, `What are you selling today. You’re either a fountain or a drain. Our kids are excited so I take great pride in that, but again, I’m going to push these student-athletes to be the best that they can be, but I’m going to also be here for them. There’s a few individuals – the Kenny Bynum’s that we recruited at Cincinnati – who actually committed to us so I told them now it’s payback time. I’m very familiar with about half of the roster of our football team right now.”
(On the actual moment he decided to leave Cincinnati)
“We’ve all talked about player-coach relationships and change is hard so that’s what I told our current football team. Change is unsettling, but it’s how you embrace the change. I’ve invested three hard years into there and Whit Babcock is a very close friend of mine so it’s hard to say goodbye. Again, I’m standing up here today because of the success of our players back to Cincinnati. Just like a quarterback – I think sometimes coaches get too much praise when they win and too much blame when they lose. We have a phrase that we say, `Praise and blame it’s all the same.’ But I’m standing up here because of our team at Cincinnati and because they were successful. It’s difficult but when you walk in here and you meet your new team and the goals, you’re just intoxicated by the success here. You can see all the great players. We’re standing in the Peyton Manning Locker Room… The greatest quarterback of all time. I’m excited to get going and I feel a sense of energy here and commitment.”
ATHLETIC DIRECTOR DAVE HART
(On if he ever had talks with Jon Gruden)
“I reached out to Jon Gruden in the process to set up a meeting, but word came back that Jon was very happy doing what he was doing and would not be coaching.”
(On what happened Thursday evening in the coaching search)
“It was a complex environment. You knew it was going to be in a coaching search like this. Last night, we met in Lexington, Ky., at 10 o’clock. At 6 o’clock this morning, we finished our session, so neither one of us has slept, so if I doze off for a second, (you’ll understand). We had an exceptional conversation, which led to what we have today.”
(On seveval candidates turning down the job)
“I think when you get into a search and you target, and we had half a dozen targets that I thought could do the job. You move on if you offer the job and somebody takes or somebody doesn’t, you move on and you feel confident in going onto the next guy. I think it was stated very well by Butch: things just work out. Things work out for the best.”
(On who he talked to about Jones)
“I talked to a lot of people in the profession. I talked to people he had worked with, administrators, ADs, staff, people on campus. I talked to coaches. I knew two of his mentors .. and their respect for him was pretty obvious in their comments. In my mind, a key indicator of if a person is going to be successful coaching wise is, ‘Has he won everywhere he’s been?’ He has. So if you can win everywhere you’ve been, that tells me a lot.”
(On when Jones got on his list of candidates)
“Butch was on that list all along. We did not get a face to face, until I said, last evening. I knew he was weighing the Colorado job. I knew he had been offered a couple of other jobs and really felt secure in Cincinnati. It was not 20 minutes into our conversation that lasted through the night that I could see genuine passion. It wasn’t artificial when he said, ‘Dave, this is my dream job.’ I knew that that was coming from his heart.”
(On about calling ADs of other schools first before talking to coaching candidates)
“What I’ve always done my entire career is reach out to my peer and say this: ‘I’m not calling for permission. That’s a misnomer. I’m calling out of professional courtesy.’ When I’m on the other end of this, what I tell callers is if you want information about the search, you need to go to the school that’s in the search. I don’t comment on someone else’s search, and I’ve always done that.”
(On qualities and restrictions on head coaching experience he was looking for)
“The primary focus for me is to judge the level of success. Has he been able to win everywhere he’s been? Has be been able to rebuild? Has he been able to take talent that was there and expound on the success of that talent? I studied all the recruiting where he’s coached. Recruiting is the lifeblood. I talked to about his ability to recruit. I talked to former players who praised his ability to recruit. What the player said is he cares. He drives us but he cares. Players really connect with him. That came from players who are in the pros, and players who are coaching in college. It was a very consistent theme.”
(On if you can recruit, you can recruit, no matter if you have previously done so in the South)
“I think that’s true. I think great recruiters have that outlook on life and they have the skill set that enables them to be great recruiters. I do think it’s important particularly in this league — and we talked about this at great length last night — to understand this league and the great competitive nature of this league and how good the Southeastern Conference is at the line of scrimmage. And we talked about that. And he has a wonderful grasp and an excellent plan on what he wants to do in that regard. But I do say it’s important to have diversity on your staff in terms of you need some younger guys who can really relate and identify to the players and you need some veteran guys who can understand the game firmly. You need some guys who have been in the SEC and have been to war in the SEC. I think at the end of the day this is the balance we need to look for.”
(On timetable forming the staff)
“I think he’ll meet with our current staff later today, and he will make some decisions relative to that. Then he’ll call all the recruits after he meets with the staff. Some have reached out to him. There’s no timetable, but he’ll know who he wants on the road. He’s got names in mind of who he wants to reach out to and he’ll begin that process and he’ll interview coaches here.”
(On if they had discussed who Jones had in mind for staff)
“We did. We talked about things last night that he had in mind, and I think he’s got a good list of prospects.”
(On if it seemed like fans were rolling every step of the way during the search)
“(laughs) If felt that way to me too.”
(On what in Jones’ body of work sold him)
“I think he is a great CEO. I think he has a real grasp of how to manage the total program. It’s a very complex task and you’ve got to be a multi-tasker to be a head football coach. You’re not only the face of the football program, you’re the face of the whole university. So you have to be able to do that. He is very attuned to relationships – relationships with high school coaches, relationships with lettermen, relationships with the media. He agreed when he got off the plane today to have our guys, Barry and his crew, put a mic on him. He said, `I want people to have reason able access. I want them to get to know me and I want to get to know them.’ That’s part of his makeup, which is refreshing, and he’s a really good football coach. In talking to college coaches that I have a great deal of respect for when I last saw them in New York, they hold him in very high regard as a football coach.”
(On how different this coaching process was with all of the social media coverage and focus on every move)
“Actually that didn’t really occur until later in the process. I think we ran a professional search and I think we ran it to the extent feasible in today’s market with as much confidence and discreetness as is feasible. Now people would getting trapped with claims that were wrong and it gets away from you a little bit. But that’s part of it. You know what? That’s fun. That’s fun for the fans. There’s nothing wrong with that. I mean even Jimmy was wrong one time. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s part of college athletics. It’s part of the passion that I love so much. So it doesn’t bother me. I think the fans did have a good time.”
(On how much of a factor having an SEC coaching background played in the coaching search)
“We talked about that at great length and Butch was very prepared to talk about that. He’s very familiar with this area in terms of recruiting. He’s very familiar with our state. He was extraordinarily prepared for what turned out to be a lengthy discussion – extraordinarily prepared. I was impressed with his candor. He didn’t try to sell anything that wasn’t real. He talked about things like priorities and how he was going to grow the program, to grow the staff. Butch is very, very honest – very direct and very honest. And I think that’s what attracts players to him. I think that’s why he has developed the relationships he has with players over the years.”
(On if he had any specific ideas on style of play when looking for a coach)
“I think Butch’s offense, if you study it, he’s always had a great balance between running and passing. His teams, as he said, are uptempo and they are physical teams. They run the ball physically and they also do a great job of scheming in the passing game. And he understands that to win in this league, you’ve got to play great defense. You’ve got to be fundamentally sound, you’ve got to know technique and as he said, that’s a focal point and that’s what he loves to teach. Most great coaches love to teach.”
(On what he says to fans who say that he didn’t get his first choice in this hire)
“Well I can’t beat Butch’s answer. I can’t say that I was even the third choice for my wife, but at the end of the day, I got to the destination. That’s what happened here. Again, that’s – if you’re the second-team quarterback and the first quarterback gets hurt and you perform at a first-team quarterback level, you’re the first-team quarterback. You capitalize on opportunities. You don’t move backwards, you move forward. And that’s what I think we have to do now as a fanbase. Our alumni, our fanbase – we’ve got to come back together as one. We’ve got to come back together and get Tennessee football back where we all want it. I am absolutely confident that that’s what this fanbase will do.”
(On Jones’ thoughts on the level of talent on the team and in the SEC)
“He does. He’s very fond of the level of talent. He thinks we have enough talent to win in this league and he thinks Derek did a very good job of building this talent and building this roster.”
(On how involved Chancellor Jimmy Cheek was in the hiring process and on Jones’ compensation package and the buyout of Jones’ contract)
“Chancellor Cheek volunteered to personally pay the buyout, first of all [joking]. He was great, as he always is. He listened, he understood. Yes, he met with the candidates. He was as involved as `you tell me what to do and I’ll make it a priority.’ And he did that.”
(On how much input there was from the board and donors)
“We are so blessed to have the type of donors and people that we have at Tennessee and they were great. They were terrific from start to finish – very supportive. If anything, the only text I would get was `Been thinking about you, but now I’m praying for you.’ Everybody was really good.”
(On how much conversation he had with the candidates about the academics and other priorities Hart had outlined with the media earlier)
“Candidates do their homework just like I do my homework. So I was happy to welcome any questions that they had. The probation was a question that was very consistent. They knew what our warts were and what our strengths were, just as I tried to study their strengths and their weaknesses. So it was a very candid conversation and it was a very healthy process. We were fishing in a pretty good pond, to be honest, with people that could come and fit and do the job and understand that we’re not there. We’re going to get there, but we’re not there yet. They understand and Butch understands that he’s got to be a part of that solution and he wants to be a part of that solution, just as everyone on our campus wants to be a part of that solution.”
(On how many candidates he met with face-to-face with)
“I met with a handful of candidates. I spent probably most time with four candidates.”
(On if he was concerned with the Jon Gruden rumors and if he was going to lose the press conference — and if that stuff is fool’s gold anyway)
“I’ve never gone into a search with that as an objective because a the end of the day, it’s success on the field. The press conference fades quickly. It’s success on the field. Every coach that I talked to clearly understood that and understands the challenges, but also understands how gratifying it can be, in this case Butch, to be the leader of our football program when we return to our rightful place in the pecking order of the SEC and nationally. This guy carries it with him and we’ll accomplish that goal.”
(On if the Vol For Life program will stick around)
“Absolutely. He’s very excited about that and he met briefly and talked to Anton about that a little bit when he came in. That’s a priority for our program, something Derek deserves a lot of credit for establishing and putting in place.”