Second-year Tennessee coach Butch Jones took the podium to close out today's session of Media Days. Naturally, being the only team in the country having to replace every single starter on both lines did come up. Here are the major takeaways:
* Rapid answers and lots of boilerplate material from Jones today. "Tell us about the SEC's running backs?" "It's gonna be a great challenge competing against all these great running backs." "Tell us about Vanderbilt's Derek Mason and your background with him." "He's a great coach and I'm sure he'll do a great job there." "How critical was the win over South Carolina last year?" "It was a very critical win for us as we made critical plays at critical moments." Nothing wrong with those kinds of answers if you're a new coach or a winning coach. But if Jones can't get things turned around at some point, some Vol fans are going to grow weary of cliches and catchphrases.
* Jones said that he feels good about his three-man quarterback competition, though he wouldn't put a timetable on naming a starter. "All three of the quarterbacks have really elevated their game." UT's coach also said the addition of talent at the skill positions around the quarterbacks will help their play in 2014. Jones also congratulated Peyton Manning on being voted the #1 player in the NFL last season... before stating that he'd "helped our quarterbacks immensely this offseason." If there's a way to remind folks that Manning played at Tennessee, Jones and his staff will find it for recruiting purposes.
* Jones: "There's a different between earning the right to win and hoping to win."
* Jones said that the consistency on his staff -- everyone returns -- is a big plus for a program that had gone through so much turnover in recent year.
* After mentioning that Tennessee will have to replace every starter on both lines, the Vols' coach added that his team will also need to replace its placekicker, kickoff man and punter.
* Asked about the SEC's 6-1-1 format and whether he would have been in favor of it if he coached elsewhere, Jones said that he could only speak from a Tennessee perspective and that "what makes college football special is the traditions, the rivalries." He added, "Now, we have to get back to making these rivalry games relevant again." UT hasn't beaten Alabama since 2006 or Florida since 2004. Jones said that the collection of "legacy" freshmen he has coming into his program will help on that front. Six freshmen have fathers who played at Tennessee, meaning that those new faces already "understand the rivalry with Alabama, understand the rivalry with Florida" as well as the traditions in Knoxville.
* Jones was asked to explain the best part of coaching at Tennessee. He cited "one of the best fanbases, a great administration" and a unified vision of where the program needs to go and how to get it there. "It's only a matter of time (before the Vols rise again)" because the program has so much to offer recruits.
* UT's coach was also asked about the difference between coaching in the Big East (with Cincinnati) and coaching in the SEC. "The daily grind. There are no off days... It's an unforgiving league." Jones said "it's like we're one step ahead" of everyone else as a league.
* Jones also pointed out that while most schools turn over about a third of their roster each season, "We're having to replace about half of our football team." He did say such turnover and youth creates excitement, opportunity and optimism, but with nine bowl teams from a year ago on his team's 2014 schedule, all the turnover could create some pain and misery along the way, too.