During SEC Media Days last week, Paul Finebaum, renowned SEC analyst and host of his own talk show on ESPN/SEC Network, was interviewed by Saturday Down South to discuss SEC football as a whole. He was asked about Butch Jones, and Finebaum’s response was far from glowing.
“Butch Jones is likely to survive this season, short of a collapse, short of a disaster,” Finebaum said, “but how does this season play out? He has done a really good job of lowering expectations, which is what I think he wants to do.”
And that was just the beginning. Finebaum’s full quotes can be seen and heard here:
Paul Finebaum had some strong words about Butch Jones this past week: pic.twitter.com/Hyd74xKGkE
— Saturday Down South (@SDS) July 16, 2017
Jones went through the “car wash” on ESPN on Monday, appearing on a number of the network’s shows. And while going through the car wash, Jones had a chance to react to Finebaum’s comments, specifically the ones about Jones “lowering expectations” for himself and the program.
“Paul hasn’t played one snap of football for the University of Tennessee,” Jones said, according to an article on the Knoxville News Sentinel. “Our expectations are to win championships. That’s the next evolution of our football program.
“He gets paid to make those comments and I respect that.”
Later on in the day, Jones appeared on Finebaum’s show on the SEC Network, and the two were cordial. Finebaum allowed Jones to praise his team and program without either of them having a repeat of what happened with Finebaum and Nick Saban last year when Saban stormed off the set during a show at SEC Media Days with Finebaum as one of the panelists.
Tennessee begins the season on September 4th in Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech. Fans and analysts alike will be watching to see if Jones and the Vols silence the critics or prove them right instead.