Butch Jones has had the magic touch during his first offseason as the head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers. In a little over half a year, Jones has propelled the level of optimism among the Vols’ fanbase to the highest point in several years.
Jones and his staff have worked diligently to promote the Tennessee football program through media appearances and social media websites since his hire this past December. His efforts have paid off, as the Vols currently hold the No.1 recruiting class for 2014 according to Rivals, 247Sports and ESPN.com.
The Vols’ dominance in recruiting has already made Jones’ hire extremely popular. Fans skeptical that recruits would be less familiar with Jones than a more recognizable figure now look forward to the future based on the already impressive recruiting class.
A talented recruiting class will be the first step toward improving the level of on-field success. Jones’ success on the recruiting trail has caught the attention of the desperate fanbase seeking a long-awaited turnaround.
As Jones continues to win over fans and attempts to restore the glory of Tennessee football, UT football officials will hope to see a growth in attendance numbers this season. The Tennessee athletic program struggled financially, finding themselves facing over $200 million in debt, according to a SportsBusiness Journal report.
Ticket sales were far lower than average during the team’s disappointing 2012 season. According to GoVolsXtra.com, Tennessee sold around 60,000 season tickets entering their home opener against Georgia State last season, a decrease from the 63,000 total in 2011.
The Vols’ losing efforts did little to increase attendance, as the team struggled to fill the 102,455-capacity stadium throughout their 5-7 (1-7) 2012 campaign. But the team will likely see a growth in attendance as Jones continues to excite desperate Vols fans.
According to WBIR-TV in Knoxville, the Vols had 61,076 in attendance for the team’s annual spring game this past April. This marked the first time Jones and staff participated in on-field coaching activities, despite the event being an inter-squad scrimmage.
Tennessee will likely see an even greater growth when they host Austin Peay for their home opener in August. Jones and staff have increased the level of optimism amongst the fanbase and will likely bring in a large crowd for early in the season.
Winning, however, will be the ultimate factor in whether the Vols can keep the level of interest at a high point and increase attendance.