Speaking with reporters on Monday, Jones ended his presser by going on a two-minute rant about coverage of the team. The comments were sparked by a question regarding the injury specifics to defensive tackle Shy Tuttle. After briefly giving an answer, Jones wrapped things up with remarks about fake news and the role of media.
You can watch the video below.
Butch's full comments to the media at the end of his presser today: pic.twitter.com/sSuQYE1lv6— Emily Proud (@emprosports) September 25, 2017
And here's the transcript of his comments ...
I think we have to understand what do we want out of our media? This place, with the drama -- and again, these are kids, and I think we all have children and we're all adults. Are we focused on Tennessee football from a recruiting standpoint, from all the positive things we've done, from all the positive things this football program brings to the community, this great fan base ... are we in the reality world of TV?
"I think all of us as human have to self-check ourselves, and you may not like that answer, but I'm a father. I have three boys and I think we sometimes have to put ourselves in a role of a parent as well. And I understand y'all have jobs to do. My expectations as the head football coach, I'm the caretaker of Tennessee football. I'm here to develop and grow the football program, recruit the best possible student-athletes to represent the University of Tennessee and win football games and graduate our players. That's my responsibility. I take that very seriously. But also, I love our kids and I'm going to protect our players and I"m going to protect our program. And sometimes the negativity is overwhelming.
"If everyone is Vols fans, how do we let our opponents use this in the recruiting process with fake news? And sometimes, again, we have to check ourselves. What are we here for? What's our values and principles that guide our life every single day?
"And I appreciate everyone in this room. You guys have a job to do, and I'm respectful of that. I'm friends with a lot of you guys in the room and I appreciate it, but also there comes a certain time where enough is enough. So, thank you. You guys have a great day. I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday and Go Vols."
That's a lot to unpack, so here are a few things to help digest it all ...
1. It's not surprising that a question about Tuttle is what sent Jones on his rant. He went 16 minutes before without a hitch. The rumor, which I am not here to validate or dismiss, is that Tuttle suffered his reported orbital bone injury during a fight with a teammate. Jones dismissed it by saying Tuttle landed on a helmet. Officially, Tuttle sat out the UMass game with an "undisclosed injury." If the rumor is true, that's obviously not a great look for Tennessee, even though teammates fighting is far from uncommon. If it's not, Jones needs to get out ahead of it. Either way, he's not going to fess up to it.
2. The ongoing tension between coaches and media about the tone of coverage is a never-ending circle. It's extra tense when the coach is on the hot seat. By nature, coaches are control freaks. That's not an indictment or a specific shot at Jones, it's just how they are. This is especially true in college when they're involved in everything from play calls to recruiting and fundraising. Part of that need to control involves program narrative, which has to be 100 percent positive or contain some type of spin. And that makes sense. College coaches are constantly following the ABCs: Always. Be. Crootin'.
3. With Jones, an eternal optimist, this sounds extra personal for him. What you see at the podium is what you normally get with Jones. It's cliche a lot of the times, but it's who he is at this point.
4. It's not the media's job to be 100 percent positive all the time. It's their job to cover a story accurately. Jones said he knows this, and he probably does, but asking a question about how Tuttle sustained his injury for clarification purposes is part of the media's gig. The line between seeking an on-the-record statement and giving credence to a rumor can be thin, but it has to be asked.
5. Jones makes a lot of money to do what he does. Just over $4.1 million in 2016, in fact. By his own definition, that's to "recruit the best possible student-athletes to represent the University of Tennessee and win football games and graduate players." Technically, he does it well. He recruits at a high level and he wins games. He's 33-22 with two nine-win seasons, and he's 3-1 through four games this year (and could've been 4-0). His win total has yet to decline from one year to the next.
But if we look beyond that, we know it's not as rosy in Knoxville as the record would suggest. There is a level of discontent with the results. In making the money that Jones makes to do what he does, he's going to be subject to a certain level of frequent scrutiny and questioning that he may not like. You never want it to be at the expense of the players -- they are amateurs by title -- and that's what Butch is trying to get across. Still, it comes with the territory.