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John Currie: “Our Expectation is a Championship Program”

Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI

Tennessee Athletic Director John Currie has taken a lot of heat over the past few weeks for his silence on Vols football and Butch Jones. Currie finally broke his silence on Monday of this week, and he’s been much more vocal this entire week after Tennessee suffered a rare and demoralizing loss to Kentucky this past weekend.

On Thursday, Currie had even more to say about Tennessee’s 2017 season, the Vols’ fan base, and the future.

Currie presented plans for the $340 million renovation to Neyland Stadium to Tennessee’s board of trustees on Thursday, and he spoke to the media after about that and a myriad of topics afterwards. He was asked about Butch Jones and the immediate future of the program, and he doubled down on his stance that he’s taking things one day and week at a time.

“My whole focus for our football program is this week, and I’ve been pretty consistent about that,” Currie told reporters on Thursday. “I’ve found in my career that when you start thinking on September 1st, if you’re thinking about winning the championship, you might be in trouble. You need to be thinking about the game on September 1st.”

Currie stressed the importance of focusing on the task at hand rather than the more broad scope with his reply, but he went on to acknowledge that not focusing on the championship on September 1st doesn’t mean championships aren’t the goal at Tennessee.

“Our expectation is a championship program,” Currie stated. “That’s our heritage and that will be our future history.”

He would go on to echo his previous statement when asked about the timing of the renovations and the cost of the project from the fans’ point of view.

This project is not about this game or last week or next week,” Currie added. “This project’s about the next hundred years. We can certainly hit the pause button just because we didn’t win last week, but that wouldn’t serve anybody very well.

“We’re focused on long-term results and long-term success.”

Speaking of the fans, Currie was asked about them more specifically too. Vol fans have voiced their frustrations in a multitude of ways this season, and Currie says he understands where they are right now.

“I certainly understand our fan frustration,” Currie said. “We’re not where we want to be. It’s unacceptable to be 0-5 in the Southeastern Conference, but we are where we are. As I said Monday night, our focus is on our student-athletes, and I know what Coach Jones is thinking about right now is getting our team ready to play Saturday.”

Many Tennessee fans are behind an “empty Neyland” movement for this Saturday. Fans want to show their displeasure with Butch Jones, Tennessee’s administration, and this season as a whole by not showing up to the game and sending a message to everyone involved with the program. But despite that movement, Currie still believes there will be plenty of fan support when Tennessee hosts Southern Miss for homecoming on Saturday night.

“I know we’ll have a lot of great fans there on Saturday supporting our student-athletes,” Currie stated. “That’s our tradition.”

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