When former Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones took the same job for the Tennessee Volunteers in December, he spoke about how he and his new staff would be making changes in Knoxville this season. It seems that Butch Jones, members of his staff and their spread offense won’t just be the only new looks for Tennessee this season.
On Thursday, the Tennessee football program unveiled five new Adidas jersey styles, first in a video and then later by current Volunteer players: A.J. Johnson, Zach Fulton, Curt Maggitt, Justin Coleman and Justin Worley.
The first four “pure traditional” jersey styles weren’t any surprise to Volunteer Nation as they’ve already been donned by Vols players in recent memory with just minors adjustments this time. These included the home orange with white pants, home orange jersey with orange pants, road white jersey with white pants and road white jersey with orange pants. The road white jerseys will now have “TENNESSEE” above the numbers and the home orange jerseys will now sport the power “T” logo, like the ones on their white helmets, above the numbers.
All the jerseys will also sport a patch of the shape of Tennessee on the neck of the jerseys called the “Tennessee” patch by some, that supposedly emphasizes Butch Jones’ message that the Volunteers are Tennessee’s team. Is this possibly a jab at James Franklin and Vanderbilt? Uh … yeah.
But the jersey that stunned and stole the show for Tennessee players, recruits and fans was the new Adidas TECHFIT gray “Smoky Gray” jersey. The new all dark gray get-up features the three official colors with the gray, orange numbering, and white trim. Additionally, it has unlike the other jerseys, “VOLS” above the numbers. The jersey will replace the alternative black jerseys that were unveiled by former Vols current USC head coach Lane Kiffin in 2009. Many Volunteer alumni, boosters and fans scrutinized the black jerseys because they believed it broke with the tradition of Volunteer football.
Let’s be honest and objective about this move by Butch Jones and the Volunteer athletic program. It was for the recruiting of players to that program.
There’s no doubt that there will be outrage by boosters, alumni and even fans calling out the athletic program for making this move. With every move in this life comes scrutiny. Everybody gets that. Or if they don’t already they should. This move might hurt some traditional Volunteer fans who say that it is non-traditional.
But you have to love the way that Butch Jones worked with Adidas to find a fit that was traditional, yet was loved by prospective student athletes.
The guy understands that if you’re going to win in the SEC, you must get good talent to Knoxville. How do you recruit good talent to Knoxville? You recruit good talent by the way you sell your program. That could by the way coaches sell the campus, facilities, jerseys, program tradition, etc.
Let’s face it. Kids today like things that are new, legit in their eyes. This new gray jersey has made a positive impression so far on prospective recruits. Butch Jones and his staff have already racked up a top-five recruiting class this season in Rocky Top.
The truth is that Tennessee has been out of the national picture the last decade, so to speak. The days of Phillip Fulmer walking through that door are long gone. No high school kid remembers the 1998 national championship or early 2000’s. Those days of winning in the SEC are long gone. Tennessee hasn’t been relevant since Fulmer left in 2008.
If that coaching staff can turn around that program with rich-tradition by the new look they put on the field. This change could have a great impact for that program and get them back to their winning ways. It’s not like this will make them national competitors. But you never know with the caliber of kids Jones is recruiting to Knoxville this season.
Cause the same people who were complaining about Derek Dooley losing the last couple of seasons, are most likely the ones criticizing this new look of the Vols.
When it comes to your team winning as a fan, who cares what kind of uniforms they wear?
Ask Oregon fans for instance.
Oh wait. Nevermind.