Column: Butch Jones making exciting changes for Vols

-A A +A
By Chris Cannon

As Derek Dooley puts his mansion up for sale, the new staff at the University of Tennessee is approaching things with a little bit of a twist.

With their first practices already under their belt, there’s been a few noticeable changes.

One change has been a simple piece of tape. To some, it may seem insignificant. To first-year head coach Butch Jones, it’s a whole other story.

In past years, players have worn pieces of tape on the front and backs of their helmets. On those pieces of tape, names were written in order for coaches to easily to identify the player, supposedly if a swift chewing was necessary.

However, this season the tape has come off and the names are no longer visible.

To Jones, it’s all a part of his plan.

During his press conference, he spoke to the media about how this worked.

According to Jones, the team is a family, and therefore, they should know each other’s names.

Each player is expected to know the coach’s name, as well as each other’s.

However, it isn’t just a player-based ritual.

Coaches have to take part as well.

During team meetings, Jones will call on a player to announce a coach’s name of his choice, while a coach will have the same task with players.

“That’s big and that’s part of really getting to know our players,” Jones said. “There’s something about knowing and individual’s name and knowing you care. If we’re a family – if we’re a team bonded by chemistry – that’s important.”

However, it’s not the only changes the new coach has made, as the team is forced to study history.

So, just how do history tests and football go together?

Jones is really concerned with incorporating former players into the program.

Each time a player comes to the team for a visit, Antone Davis leads the team through reviews of the player’s career at Tennessee.

Not only could players be quizzed on those players, but they are also expected to know just a little about the history of the player that had their number before them.

All of them.

“The past is part of what we have,” Jones said. “The tradition is part of what makes our place so special.”

Jones has also made changes in other areas, firing fans up with his “fist up” defense.

Each time the team holds the other team on third down, Jones expects the fans to all hold up a fist for fourth down.

He’s also expecting over 70,000 at the Orange and White game on April 20.

Jones has also grabbed two of the Legacy Class of 2014 in Vic Wharton and Todd Kelly Jr.

If you ask me, there’s some exciting things to come.