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Butch Jones is finally embracing change
Photo Credit To Mike Griffith

Butch Jones is finally embracing change

Nothing in life leads to more uncertainty than change.

For Butch Jones and his Tennessee Volunteers, that’s what they face: Change. Uncertainty.

Thanks to a hefty percentage of talent migrating from last season’s roster into the NFL, the Vols enter 2017 as an impossible team to predict. There are questions marks everywhere — most notably at quarterback — and even within the most stable position units — the offensive line — there still remains hesitancy.

Yes, the offensive line is experienced, but are they any good?

The lack of answers paired with a tediously long offseason has Tennessee’s fan base split down the middle. One side screams, “Remember Derek Dooley?!” The other side quickly responds, “Remember the ’90s?!”

It’s a never-ending cycle, and after Butch’s appearance during the spectacle that is SEC Media Days, those loyal to the Orange and White will keep going round and round.

Butch didn’t do anything head-turning during yet another round of cliche-riddled media sessions. At this point, we know how Butch Jones is going to approach the media. We also understand that while he loathes reporters, he’s obsessed with their opinions, as evident by the following clip.

In a span of only 15 seconds, Butch delivers a shot at the media — calling them “so-called experts” — while also revealing that his staff engaged in research on the media’s accuracy when it comes to making season predictions.

So while he was able to poke fun, he also admits that he cares, and cares a lot.

Normally, I’m in the camp that doesn’t give a damn what other people think, but Butch is in a unique position here. After last season’s disappointment, I truly believe Butch genuinely feels awful about how everything played out and is grasping for anything to justify Tennessee’s lackluster results. He’ll never discover that justification from anywhere other than within the program.

Needless to say, after a stunning loss to Vanderbilt to close the regular season, Butch had to have known that it was time to adapt. That’s not an easy task for a coach often critiqued for being stuck in his ways, but there’s no denying that Butch is currently embracing change everywhere, from his coaching staff to the way he’s managing his team to the way he’s attacked the recruiting trail.

A key reason as to why media pundits have no earthly idea on how to project what Tennessee will become is largely due the abundance of new faces, not only on the field, but on the sidelines. Essentially every coaching slot has been filled in with someone new, which suggests that the identity of this team — if the Vols had any identity over the past four seasons — will experience at least some alteration. For Butch to be making such drastic changes in his staff in such a pivotal year with a new athletic director always peering over his shoulders proves that he is embracing this challenge and hell-bent on bouncing back after 2016.

After Butch made his coaching staff adjustments, he hit the recruiting trail harder than he ever has. After a year in which many thought that the Tennessee brand took a nosedive, the Vols currently have the No. 3 ranked recruiting class in the country, including the top-ranked class in the SEC. It is only July, so we need to cool down the hot takes, but this level of response in the most important aspect of college football proves that Butch has some level of self-awareness to him. That he isn’t tone-deaf like a certain faction of the fan base suggests.

On the field, nobody is confident in what the product will look like, but Butch revealed to the media that the Vols will have different captains every week during the season.

This appears to be a small gesture, but after Team 120 faced harsh criticism in its leadership last season, it’s a refreshing approach to go leadership by committee.

Nothing Butch said on Monday will matter once the season starts. He’ll continue to talk the way he talks no matter how much the media wants him to talk differently. But if you read between the lines, and observe what Butch is doing for this program away from the microphone, his actions are speaking much louder than words.

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