KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Fans look to the players on the field and the coaches on the sidelines to put up the wins and bring home the championships. At the head of the pack is Coach Butch Jones.
This will be his fifth year at the helm. He’s led the Vols to back-to-back nine-win seasons, but the Orange and White Nation wants more. The Vols obviously lost some talent to the NFL, most notably Joshua Dobbs. He will have a new quarterback this season, but when you take a step back, that’s only one of the many changes on Rocky Top.
WATE 6 On Your Side Sports Director Marshall Hughes recently had the chance to sit down with Jones and pick his brain.
MARSHALL HUGHES: Year five at Tennessee. Looking back at your track record, three years at Central Michigan, three at Cincinnati, this is the longest stand that you had as a head coach at Tennessee. I want to know if you could go back to when you first started in 2013, what bit of advice would you give yourself?
COACH BUTCH JONES: Just continue to stay the course. I’ve really tried to live up to that. We knew how much work needed to be done and very proud of the work that we’ve done over that period of time, but now it’s continue to grow and elevate football program. But again, just stay the course, and I think that’s what it takes to build a successful football program. But again this is a great place to live. This is home for us.
HUGHES: Two quarterbacks. That’s been the talk of college football season so far. Quinten Dormady, Jarrett Guarantano both competing at a high level right now… If the season opener was today, I mean what would be the case?
JONES: Well we would probably flip a coin which is a good thing… For us, they need to continue to elevate their play. I see the progress that they’re making each and every day. I see the growth each and every day and again we don’t believe in a timetable when it’s ready to happen it will happen.
HUGHES: And when it does happen, will it come down to just one guy?
JONES: You know what right now they are earning playing time and I really like the progression that both quarterbacks are making so again you are and you’re playing time through what you do in the meeting room and obviously what you do on the practice field as well.
HUGHES: Dating back to your first coaching gig, did you ever have an offense where you were part of a two quarterback system?
JONES: We did. We had two individuals at Central Michigan, Dan Lefever and Brian Brunner, who really kind of competed all the way through. Dan Lefever played in the National Football League and Brian had the opportunity as well, and again those were two talented individuals. And the great thing about our offense is it adaptable to whoever the quarterback is.
HUGHES: But this is not making you lose any sleep at night having two guys that could be the guy.
JONES: Actually I think it’s a great situation to be in. A lot of programs are searching for one, we have two quality quarterbacks and we have a third in Will McBride, who’s a true freshman, who’s gaining valuable experience as well..
HUGHES: Let’s talk a little bit about recruiting. It obviously took a lot to get a kid from New Jersey and from Texas up to Rocky Top, In terms of recruiting, Tennessee is always in the mix as one of the top recruiters in the country. Is there anything you would change right now that you’re allowed to do? It’s obviously changed so much since the game started. Just as we see football evolve, recruiting has evolved. Is there anything you’d like to change?
JONES: Well it’s ever changing, and we’ll see how the new signing period goes. The new opportunity to have official visits in some months. So I don’t know if those are positive right now for the game of football and positive for individuals in high school, but I’ll wait and see. We have a plan in place. But really, a constant theme in recruiting that never changes is our relationships. And you mention Quinten Dormady being from Texas, and Jarrett Guarantano being from New Jersey. Well Jarrett Guarantano’s father Jim played for me when I was at Rutgers. So those relationships go back a long way. And Quinten Dormady, whose father’s his head coach in high school. So it’s all about relationships. That’s really the basis of what recruiting is all about.
HUGHES: When you saw Guarantano’s father over at Rutgers, did you ever think you’d be coaching his son?
JONES: Jarrett and I always talk about his father as a player. And he’s actually in the Rutgers Hall of Fame as a wide receiver. And so that was one of my first jobs. Jim broke me in. But I tell you what, just the relationship I’ve had with his family and his mother, his sister and all that has been very rewarding. And the same thing with Quinten Dormady. Quinten Dormady’s been in our program for three years and the growth and maturation I’ve seen over those times has been rewarding as well.
HUGHES: You look at your phrase this season, “DAT Way,” details, accountability and toughness. Looking at that obviously DAT Way you have to be familiar comes from the Atlanta based rap group Migos. Are you a fan of Migos?
JONES: I am and I found out about them basically through Alvin Kamara.
HUGHES: That’s got to be exciting for him.
JONES: It is and everything is a way a young man really remembers it and that’s what it is. You want to have the ability, the quick turnaround, detail,s accountability and toughness and it can’t be a fancy slogan. It’s got to be a way of life. Obviously it starts with details. It starts with accountability and then he finishes up with toughness.