KNOXVILLE, TN (WRCB) -- Three head coaches in four seasons, if that doesn't tell you how rocky it's been on Rocky Top, this next stat may. The Vols won just nine SEC games in those four seasons. Not one of the teams they beat finished with a winning conference record.
Enter the third coach. The Butch Jones season is a week into fall practice and the Vols say this time it's different for all the right reasons.
"This is why I love being a head coach, you get to paint the vision for what you want, you create the environment, you create the atmosphere, you create the moral," said Jones.
Morale is as high as it's been throughout a four year span with three different head coaches.
That atmosphere seems to follow first year head coach Butch Jones. He rebuilt Central Michigan before taking Cincinnati to the top of the Big East.
"This team has bought in probably quicker than the previous two stops," said Jones.
Senior Linebacker A.J. Johnson said, "when we first said coach Jones is coming, we watched clips of him speaking to his players I felt he would be a great fit here. Everything he does is for the University of Tennessee."
Jones surrounded himself with proven pieces, assistants he's worked with in the past. All but two have spent time with him at either Central Michigan or Cincinnati, "the transition has been seamless because we all know each other. We've been through it together so I didn't have to take my time to coach coaches," said Jones.
Something the players have caught on to, something different from years past says offensive lineman James Stone, "it just makes it easier to build trust in them, they work as a unit. You're getting one answer back you're not getting mixed signals from the coaches. It helps us trust them and makes it easier to trust them."
Defensive lineman Corey Miller said, "I feel a huge difference between this staff and the previous staff, but this staff shows you a more family oriented type of relationship."
Miller says that's the type of family you need when you're facing the adversity that Jones predicts.
Jones said, "I'm a firm believer in team chemistry. I think we all know this, it's not a secret. Are we the most talented team this year, no we're not. We understand that. But, talent doesn't win championships. Teams win championships."
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