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Jones: Working to be champions

New University of Tennessee coach Butch Jones speaks to the media during his introductory press conference inside the Peyton Manning Locker Room Complexy at Neyland Stadium on Friday afternoon.
Published: 4:36 PM, 12/08/2012 Last updated: 4:45 PM, 12/08/2012

Author: Seth Butler
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

KNOXVILLE-After a long and winding coaching search to replace Derek Dooley, former Cincinnati coach Butch Jones was introduced as the 24th football coach in Tennessee history on Friday afternoon.

Jones arrives to lead the Vols after compiling a 50-27 record in six seasons as a head coach at Cincinnati and Central Michigan. In those six seasons as a head coach, where he has followed in the footsteps of current Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, Jones' teams have won at least a share of four conference championships.

"Butch has a track record of success at every program he has led, and he views Tennessee as the job he coveted," Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart said. "We look forward to Butch leading our football program back to prominence."

Jones, who just led the Bearcats of Cincinnati to a 9-3 record this year, was in contention for the Colorado and Purdue jobs earlier this week, before the Tennessee coaching search imploded on Wednesday. After Louisville coach Charlie Strong spurned the Vols' offer on Wednesday night, the search rebooted and sought Jones' services.

"Thank you Dave (Hart) for everything and giving me this wonderful opportunity to lead the best college football program in the America," Jones said at his introductory press conference. "I truly believe that.

"I'm excited to roll my sleeves up and get started," Jones said. "It's our goal to give everyone the
kind of football program that you can be 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.

"I am very fortunate and very proud to be your head football coach," Jones said.

Jones, who appeared to be the Vols fourth choice this week saw no issues with the search going other ways, before it found him on Thursday evening.

"Absolutely not, I think I was my wife's third choice," Jones said. "I told our players at Cincinnati that this was my dream job."

Jones has no previous ties to the SEC, but he says that should be no problem for the future of the Tennessee program that is hunting for its first conference championship since the 1998 season.

"I think what you have to do is look at our football staff and our body of work," Jones said. "Six years and four championships.

"It's a process that 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," Jones said. "I will be the first to tell you that Nick Saban and Les Miles had zero SEC experience when they came into the league."

Jones had a pair of successful seasons at Cincinnati, where he led the Bearcats to a share of a pair of Big East titles the last two years.

"At Cincinnati, we lost more NFL productivity than any team in the country," Jones said. "Our players have overachieved and I am very proud of that."

Jones in taking over a Tennessee program that has suffered three consecutive losing seasons, will push the current Vols roster. He met with the team earlier on Friday afternoon, and in between recruiting for National Signing Day in February, will evaluate the entire returning roster individually in the near future.

"I felt a great connection and an energy and passion-level," Jones said. "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 also going to be here for them," Jones said.

Jones said he also understands the expectations of the tough Tennessee job, which hasn't had a SEC division title since 2007.

"We have the same expectations," Jones said. "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," Jones said. "This program has done it before and we'll do it again."

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