Tag Archives: Lane Kiffin

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’s seniors have endured 4-year SEC record of 6-25

Ja'Wuan James

Senior Ja’Wuan James talks to reporters at SEC Media Days in August (AP photo by Dave Martin)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee’s seniors are rallying around the idea of finishing the season 1-0.

The alternative is too depressing to think about.

The Vols (4-7, 1-6 SEC) play Kentucky (2-9, 1-6) on Saturday in Lexington (TV: ESPNU, 7 p.m.)

Win or lose, Tennessee’s seniors will leave with the worst four-year record in school history.

You can read my full story in the News Sentinel’s HUGE Thanksgiving Day paper.

As of today, Tennessee is 20-28 overall and 6-25 in the SEC since 2010.

The numbers are so astonishingly bad that I double-checked just to make sure that I wasn’t miscalculating. I wasn’t.

What’s even more remarkable is this: Tennessee’s signing class was ranked No. 7 nationally in 2009 and No. 8 in 2010 (according to the 247Sports Composite ratings, which aggregate all major recruiting services).

That’s an important reminder that recruiting is only one part of the equation. Developing and retaining the most talented players when they arrive on campus is equally important.

Tennessee football: Naz Oliver’s departure leaves Vols with 3 members of 2009 class

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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee confirmed the departure of senior defensive back Naz Oliver Wednesday night, although it was lost amid a flurry of significant injury news.

Naz Oliver (UT photo)

Naz Oliver (UT photo)

If nothing else, Oliver was a survivor. It’s tough to last to a fifth year in the SEC, and even tougher when you are beset by injuries and hardly play at all.

Oliver will graduate and leave UT with a degree, coach Butch Jones said. He thus could be eligible to play immediately at another school, and Jones said UT wants to help him find an opportunity if he chooses to pursue a final season.

Oliver’s departure leaves UT with three remaining signees from the Class of 2009, the only class signed by former coach Lane Kiffin. They are: defensive linemen Marlon Walls and Daniel Hood and linebacker Greg King. Tight end Joseph Ayres, a former walk-on, is also a fifth-year player.

Oliver’s departure leaves the Vols with an estimated 82 players on scholarship, including at least four former walk-ons who we think are currently receiving athletic aid. When the new semester starts in two weeks, coaches could hand out additional scholarships to walk-ons should they choose to do so. The NCAA maximum is 85.

So what does Tennessee’s scholarship roster look like now? For one thing, it no longer has a New Jersey representative. Oliver was the lone Garden State native.

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