Expletive chants have been an unofficial part of Tennessee’s student section’s tradition for several years – especially when rivals such as Florida or Alabama come to Knoxville.
With the Gators milking away the final minute of their 10-9 win over the Vols on Saturday afternoon and in the midst of some shoving from both teams, a very audible “**** You Florida” chant originated from the student section and resonated around the stadium, loud enough to be heard by everybody in attendance and by those watching on the SEC Network.
Butch Jones was asked his thoughts on the matter in light of the image he’s trying to portray to recruits and fans.
“Everything is first impressions and we have great people here and our student body’s outstanding – I love them to death,” Jones said, referring particularly to the student section, which was named the Rocky Top Rowdies this year. “They meant so much to us from a recruiting standpoint, from an atmosphere standpoint. I think it’s just the emotion of the game, and the want to win. That appetite for winning which I spoke about earlier, that’s the passion our fan base has. That’s what makes them very very special. It’s something that, when I get a chance, I’ll speak to them about. I love them to death because they’ve been there for us, and we’re going to need them as the season continues to progress.”
Chancellor Jimmy Cheek, who spent 34 years as an administrator at the University of Florida prior to coming to Tennessee, also released a statement via email to the student body on Monday:
We all know that it’s great to be a Tennessee Vol, but our behavior should always reflect the Volunteer spirit. That spirit is about civility and respect. At Saturday’s game against Florida, there were chants from the student section that were totally unacceptable. Win or lose, we must respect our opponents, demonstrate class, and always show pride for our great university. As Volunteers, we are better than that and our expectation is that this kind of behavior will never happen again.”
Many Tennessee fans have pointed out Florida coach Will Muschamp’s public comments that he was pleased to see the Tennessee fans “disappointed” after the game as equally if not more classless than Tennessee’s chant.
But Jones and Cheek clearly aren’t on board in supporting that chant in the future at Neyland Stadium. They may have to deal with it at least one more time with Lane Kiffin returning to Neyland Stadium as Alabama’s offensive coordinator in a few weeks.