Former Tennessee Vols head coach Butch Jones isn’t a popular figure in Knoxville, thanks to the way his tenure on Rocky Top ended in 2017.
But despite the rough ending to Jones’ five-year run as Tennessee’s head coach, there’s no denying that he’s the program’s most successful head coach since Phillip Fulmer.
Jones had three straight winning seasons from 2014-2016. The last time the Vols accomplished that feat was from 2002-2004.
While Jones certainly underachieved during his time at UT, he still managed to find a level of success that’s become rare in Knoxville.
New Vols head coach Josh Heupel is hoping to replace Jones as Tennessee’s most successful coach since Phillip Fulmer.
And surprisingly, it appears that Heupel is actually taking a page out of the Butch Jones playbook.
During Jones’ final season at Tennessee, he introduced his “DAT WAY” slogan. DAT stood for details, accountability, and toughness.
Heupel is using a similar slogan in his first season as the Tennessee head coach.
EATS, which stands for effort, alignment, toughness, and smarts.
Cedric Tillman said Josh Heupel preaches ‘EATS’ all the time. Meaning effort, alignment, toughness and smarts.
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) March 31, 2021
If you’re suddenly having flashbacks to the Butch Jones era, don’t worry — these slogans are extremely common throughout college football. The only difference is that Jones liked to flaunt the slogans on t-shirts and in press conferences. Most coaches just use them as a way to remind players of what’s important during practices.
Urban Meyer has used them (The Chase and The Grind). Dabo Swinney has used cringeworthy slogans such as BYOG (bring your own guts). If it works for those two guys, then there’s no reason Heupel can’t also use a slogan or two.
This is just one of the ways that coaches motivate college athletes. Jones just happened to be incredibly awkward with his delivery (and he did go a bit overboard with the usage of the slogans).
Heupel, unlike Jones, has a proven track record as an offensive mastermind. So even though EATS sounds a lot like DAT WAY, this isn’t another Butch on Rocky Top. Heupel has a plan for success and he’s already implementing that plan.
Featured image via Tennessee Athletic Communications/Knoxville News Sentinel