Charles Davis Latest To Praise Jones' Approach At UT
by Dan Harralson
Aug 02, 2013 9:39 AM EDT
Butch Jones continues to build the Tennessee football program back, brick by brick.
Fans are excited and so are former players and alumni. Team 117 reports Aug. 1 and kicks off fall camp Aug. 2. One former Vols player, Charles Davis, sat down with me and talked about Butch Jones repairing the historic program back to where it needs to be.
"I think everyone is ready," Davis told Football.com. "I'm very excited to have him. I've known Butch for a number of years now, long before he entered the process at Tennessee."
Jones has reunited the fan base and has brought back former players in numbers.
"I'm very excited he's the head coach of my alma mater. Butch is a uniter. Butch is a guy that can attest problems, going in with different factions and selling his message in what he believes in and what he's about, and then he lives it," Davis said.
Jones has had success at previous stops before arriving in Knoxville.
"You've seen Butch's success along the way and you hear people say, 'Well it was all Brian Kelly?' Well he helped Brian Kelly, it's not a matter of him taking over someone else's work, he helped with that work," Davis said of Jones' prior success.
Before his lengthy tenure as a broadcaster, Davis was part of some special Tennessee teams. As an all-SEC defensive back, Davis was a key contributor to the Sugar Vols 1985 team that upset the Miami Hurricanes.
"It was a very special game. We were a double-digit underdog," Davis reflected back on the 35-7 victory over Miami in the Sugar Bowl. "Miami had a chance to win a national title because Oklahoma was playing Penn State that same night in the Orange Bowl. Miami had gone to Oklahoma that year and beat them convincingly and if it all came down where Miami won, they could be national champions, but they forgot they still had to play us.
"Were we as good as Miami man for man? No. I don't think so. You look back at the NFL draft and the great players that played on that Miami team, I believe that would be the case. But that night, we were a much better team. We were more cohesive, faster to the football. Our minds were not thinking something else. We were thinking about the moment and they were thinking about a possible national championship."
Davis currently ranks tied for seventh in career interceptions for the Vols. His 13 career interceptions from 1983-86 are five behind Tim Priest's 18 career picks from 1968-70. Davis' probably played his senior season in 1986 under the best staff in Tennessee football history.
"Coach Majors was the head of everything. Coach Fulmer, Ken Donahue, Ron Zook, David Cutcliffe, you can go right on down the line," Davis said. "Kippy Brown, we had a staff that was flat-out loaded. Jon Gruden was a grad assistant and did a fantastic job for us. His first experience on a coaching staff, you knew early about Jon because he had a work ethic that was unsurpassed."
There is no doubt that Jones enters after Tennessee's darkest days, with three straight losing seasons, but it is also apparent that Butch Jones has everything going his way as the 117th Tennessee team enters fall camp.
"The biggest thing about Butch is that he comes along in a time when Tennessee, as a fan base, (needs) a coach that can put everyone together, and that's what Butch does," Davis said. "Even though he didn't go to Tennessee, he is a Tennessee Volunteer already. The last couple of guys (head coaches) worked their butts off and did everything to give their all for Tennessee, but I'm not sure Tennessee fans felt like it touched them, so to speak.
"Will it translate into wins and losses? It will down the road, but it's going to take some time. The talent base is not there just yet, but he's making great headway in recruiting and to get Tennessee back on the map where they're supposed to be."
You know the Tennessee football program is united when Johnny Majors and Phillip Fulmer have been to practices together.
"It's always nice to see past head coaches there. When you talk about Coach Majors and Coach Fulmer coming together for the same goal, which is to help Tennessee, it's definitely nice. If anyone will get stuff like that done, it's Butch Jones," Davis said.