Tag Archives: Butch Jones

Butch Jones says he has great respect for former Vols coach Lane Kiffin

Lane Kiffin (AP photo)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — When Lane Kiffin returns to Neyland Stadium on Oct. 25 as Alabama’s offensive coordinator, there is likely to be a swarm of media interest.

But current Vols coach Butch Jones had nothing but good things to say about Kiffin, who was UT’s head coach for one season in 2009 before leaving for Southern California.

“I have tremendous respect for Lane Kiffin and what he’s accomplished,” Jones said on the Paul Finebaum show, which was broadcasting live from Neyland Stadium on Thursday. “He’s a great football coach.”

Jones noted that virtually no one on Tennessee’s roster has a connection to Kiffin or his staff. Last year, there were several seniors recruited by Kiffin.

Most of Finebaum’s interview with Jones covered well-charted ground, but Jones did offer some candor when quizzed about fan expectations for 2014.

Jones said he wants to work at a place with high expectations.

“The expectations are very high, but (fans are) also very well-educated,” Jones said. “They understand we’re in transition.”

Jones closed the interview by calling it an “honor and privilege” to talk to Finebaum, who is a UT graduate and Memphis native.

“I’m a great fan of yours,” Jones said. “Welcome home.”

Tennessee, West Virginia ‘finalizing’ game at Charlotte in 2018 (report)

Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte (AP photo)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee and West Virginia are close to finalizing an agreement to play a neutral-site game at Charlotte in 2018, the Charleston (W. Va.) Gazette reported on Tuesday.

UT did not immediately comment on the report.

The newspaper quoted Marcus Hammond, the team’s director of football operations, as saying the deal was close to being finished.

“That would give us a marquee game in a marquee venue. It would be exciting for the fans and the team,” he said.

Tennessee has already announced plans to open the 2015 season in Nashville against UAB and play Virginia Tech at the Bristol Motor Speedway in 2016.

Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart has said he is interested in pursuing neutral site games. The potential game in Charlotte would likely be played at Bank of America Stadium, which seats 74,000.

Tennessee coach Butch Jones was an assistant at West Virginia in 2005 and 2006.

Tennessee did not immediately comment on the West Virginia report.

Today in Tennessee football: Finding out what went right, what went wrong in Saturday’s scrimmage

Brandon Myles operates the JUGS gun as freshman tight end Ethan Wolf pulls down a catch (photo by Evan Woodbery).

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Most Tennessee players received their grades on Monday after coaches spent the weekend reviewing a lengthy scrimmage at Neyland Stadium.

When the Vols return to the practice field on Tuesday afternoon (and we hear what coach Butch Jones has to say in post-practice interviews), we’ll know about the winners and losers from Saturday’s session.\

Clearly, the defensive front has some challenges that have been magnified by injuries this spring. But the positive signs at the offensive skill positions have offered optimism for 2014. Saturday’s scrimmage did little to diminish either storyline.

I made a few post-scrimmage changes to the speculative depth chart. All the usual caveats apply, but you can get a sense of the depth concerns on defensive line by looking at all the missing players.

The Vols have 11 days and six more practices until the April 12 Orange & White game. Check out the full offseason calendar here.

Ups and downs in Tennessee’s wet scrimmage at Neyland Stadium (video, photos, .gifs)

The Vols prepare for Saturday’s scrimmage (photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — There was plenty to like about the way Tennessee’s running game sliced through the defense, but there were enough turnovers to leave coach Butch Jones not entirely pleased the effort on either side of the ball.

The defense, Jones said, needs to develop a line-of-scrimmage mentality to compete in the SEC.

At one point, he shouted to the defense (and specifically the line), “What happens when Alabama comes in here and runs the ball?”

 Here’s a link to my photos from today. A pre-scrimmage video is included below. Plus, read all our coverage on GoVolsXtra.

Keith Pantling returns to Tennessee football administrative staff

KNOXVILLE, TennesseeKeith Pantling has been hired as Tennessee’s new associate director of football operations.

Pantling was an original member of Butch Jones‘ staff in December 2012, but opted to return home to Cincinnati. He rejoined Jones this month after some internal moves opened up another position.

Chris Spognardi was promoted to director of football operations after the departure of Brad Pendergrass. It appears Pantling will take on Spognardi’s old role.

Pantling was associate director of athletic operations at Cincinnati in between his stints at Tennessee.

UT said Spognardi will make $80,000 in his new role. Pantling made $50,000 in his first stint at Tennessee, the same salary Spognardi was paid before his promotion.

Vols bounce back to practice with fast tempo, big hits (video, photos, .gifs)

Running backs Marlin Lane (left) and Devrin Young (photo by Evan Woodbery).

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee senior running back Marlin Lane was back at practice on Tuesday after using the spring break to rest his injured left wrist.

Coach Butch Jones said Lane would still be limited in the remaining spring sessions, but his presence alone was a positive sign.

Jones also plenty of good things to say about freshman receiver Josh Malone, who made some big plays in Tuesday’s practice.

“He’s playing with a lot of confidence,” Jones said. “You can see the speed, burst and acceleration that we saw on film when we recruited him.”

Full coverage from Tuesday is available for subscribers on GoVolsXtra. Check out six minutes of practice highlights below and some photos after the jump… 

Continue reading

After a spring break filled with basketball, Tennessee football is back today

Coach Butch Jones (right) talks with offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian before practice earlier this month at Neyland Stadium (photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee returns to practice on Tuesday for its sixth official session of the spring season.

The Vols last practiced on March 14, a scrimmage at Neyland Stadium. Most players went home for the break, although some — including running back Marlin Lane — stayed in town to work out or rehab injuries.

Lane injured his hand and received treatment over the break. Coach Butch Jones is expected to provide an update on his status Tuesday afternoon, although his return this spring is questionable at best.

Jones and his staff also took a few days off during the break. Jones joined athletic director Dave Hart and UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek in Raleigh, N.C., to watch the men’s basketball team advance to the Sweet 16.

It’s safe to say that with both basketball teams embarking on a deep NCAA tournament run, this week’s football practices won’t be on center stage.

Check out our full coverage on GoVolsXtra this evening, including instant observations, post-interview updates, video and photos.

[gdoc link=”https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0AgBQnqCTaaxzdEl2aUhqV1FSUkZzTGM3NHNBXzQwZlE&output=html&widget=true” width=”100%” height=”515″]

Tennessee assistant coaching salaries remain unchanged for now

Linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen watches practice at Neyland Stadium earlier this month (photo by Evan Woodbery).

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — We updated our Tennessee football staff salary database last month and found no changes to the contracts originally signed by Vols’ assistant when they were by Butch Jones.

However, amid reports and speculation that one or more assistants were in line for a post-National Signing Day raise, we promised to keep checking.

UT responded to our public-records request this week and said there have been no changes to the contracts we were given last month. That means the salaries listed below still stand.

[gdoc link=”https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0AgBQnqCTaaxzdHlCNjFUMW4tUnN1ZkhBTC1NUWgwdUE&output=html&widget=true” width=”100%” height=”515″]

All assistants signed two-year deals upon being hired. The second year of the deals run from March 1, 2014 to Feb. 28, 2015.

Most of the raise speculation  has centered on linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen, the Rivals.com recruiter of the year who helped land several major prospects for the Vols.

But any significant raise to Thigpen might require raises for other coaches to avoid upsetting the hierarchy. After the coordinators, assistant head coach Steve Stripling is the highest paid assistant. Willie Martinez became the second-highest paid non-coordinator when he was given the title “assistant head coach for defense.”

As we said last month, salary adjustments are still possible — maybe even likely. But as of this week, they haven’t taken effect. But we’ll keep checking.

Wrapping up Friday’s scrimmage at Neyland Stadium (video, photos, .gifs)

Coach Butch Jones (right) talks to offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian before the scrimmage (photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee coach Butch Jones dismissed his players on Friday with instructions to visit with family and get some rest. But he also told them to be ready for football when they return.

The Vols are now in the midst of an 10-day break from practices, but the final practice on Friday was a fearsome one.

Subscribers can read all about on GoVolsXtra or today’s News Sentinel. I’ll update our depth charts with a few tidbits gleaned from the scrimmage later today.

For now, check out some brief pre-scrimmage highlights and some photos and .gifs after the jump.

Continue reading

Tennessee spring football: Catching up on video, photos and .gifs from Day 3

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The Tennessee football doesn’t practice on Wednesday, and by the time the Vols return to action on Thursday, the temperature may have dropped from 72 to 32.

Bugs swarm around Haslam Field on Tuesday (photos by Evan Woodbery)

On a positive note, that might kill the bugs that plagued Tuesday’s practice. And, yes, I made a .gif of them, too.

For some much better photos, check out Adam Lai’s gallery here.

Butch Jones wasn’t entirely pleased with Tuesday’s practice, the first in full pads. He said some of the newcomers weren’t prepared for the pace. He called out one player for putting his hands on his hips — a big no-no in Jones’ world.

Beyond that, what conclusions can we draw through three practices — 20 percent of the spring total? Not a whole lot. All four quarterbacks are getting reps, and we’ve heard good things about Riley Ferguson. I would still be surprised if there’s a firm decision by the end of spring.

Quarterback Joshua Dobbs throws a pass to Justus Pickett (photos by Evan Woodbery)

Running backs break down the huddle during practice (photo by Evan Woodbery)

Depth at the running back spot seems at least serviceable behind Marlin Lane and Jalen Hurd. That’s a good thing because two more scholarship backs are arriving this summer.

Emmanuel Moseley (photos by Evan Woodbery)

In the secondary, coaches clearly like Emmanuel Moseley a lot and are grooming the freshman for a big role in 2014. He’s working as the “first team” cornerback now, with Justin Coleman working at nickel.