Joining Jones

Butch Jones

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Dave Hart and Vol Nation have their new leader in Butch Jones. The Tennessee athletics director announced his new hire Friday afternoon in a press conference inside the Peyton Manning Locker Room under Neyland Stadium.

Now the question becomes, who will Jones surround himself with in regards to his staff? And the new headman set the bar extremely high from the jump.

"I can assure you we will put together the best football staff in the entire country, not just the Southeastern Conference, but the entire country," Jones said. "I have a checklist of what I am looking for. First of all, it starts with character.

"I want individuals with tremendous character and then I want great teachers — great teachers in the game of life, great teachers in the game of football, fundamentalists and motivators. We want great teachers and people with a great passion for the University of Tennessee."

A coach tends to weave a web of peers that he feels comfortable working with and Jones is no exception. Vol fans can expect Jones to bring several coaches in tow from the University of Cincinnati.

Tennessee players have lobbied for the retention of offensive line coach Sam Pittman.
(Danny Parker/InsideTennessee.com)
"It is my job as the caretaker of Tennessee football to bring in the best staff to get us to compete for championships so I am going to do my due diligence," Jones said. "There will probably be a few individuals that accompany me from the University of Cincinnati, but I can assure you we are going to leave no stone unturned to bring the best coaches here to Knoxville."

Individuals that will likely be included on that list from Cincinnati include offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian, special teams coordinator and safeties coach Mark Elder and tight ends coach Dave Johnson.

Bajakian has been with Jones since his days at Central Michigan dating back to 2007. Offensively in 2011, UC averaged 385 yards per game, ranking No. 2 in the BIG EAST in rushing offense (178.5 ypg) and scored an average of 33.3 points per game on the way to a BIG EAST Conference Championship and a win in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl over SEC foe Vanderbilt.

Jones official memorandum of understanding says he has a minimum of $3 million available for his assistant coaching staff, which should enable him to attract some major assistant coaching names, but some of his future staff may already be in Knoxville, including offensive line coach Sam Pittman.

"I am looking to definitely keep coach Pittman," said junior offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James of his coach. "We are going to go talk to Dave Hart and whomever we need to talk to so we can keep him as an offensive line. He has worked out great with us. We would like him to stay."

Former Tennessee tailback and current running backs coach Jay Graham is also a member of the current staff that could get a long hard look by Jones. Especially considering Jones' expressed value of having a Tennessee feel in Knoxville.

"I do think that's important," Jones said. "It's really important to for our players and understanding that there are some players that have been there, done that and gone through the trials and tribulations and understanding of where to go. I'm going to work extremely hard to get that component on our staff."

And what better way than to give a Tennessee feel to Jones' staff than to add former National Championship winning quarterback and current University of Southern California wide receiver coach Tee Martin, who Jones said will get some consideration.

"I'm still in that investigative stage so to speak of really trying to put together a really qualified staff," Jones said when asked of Martin. "Obviously, he's a great coach and we all understand what he's meant to this program so he would be an individual that we would reach out to, but we're going to reach out to a lot of people."

Fans should expect Jones to spend the majority of the next 10 days hitting the recruiting trail with a vengeance given that a dead period begins on Dec. 17. While some coaching hired may be made immediately, less obvious hires may have to wait until after that period hits.

InsideTennessee was told that the current Vol staff was meeting with Jones as soon as Friday evening to get their fate going forward.

Watch video from Jones' introductory press conference below:

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