Feb. 1, 2013
By Jason Yellin UTSports.com
NEW ORLEANS-- "The times I have talked to Butch, I have been very impressed.
"He's a great recruiter and great offensive mind."
Those are some striking comments from one coach about another, but when you consider they come from a coach who has led his team to the Super Bowl, that makes them even more powerful.
Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh spoke about new Tennessee head coach Butch Jones at Super Bowl Media Day at the Superdome earlier this week.
An Ohio native, Harbaugh has gotten to know Jones over the years through coaching clinics. He became more familiar with him when Jones coached in Harbaugh's home state, while leading Cincinnati to two conference titles in his three years with the Bearcats.
Jones also made a major impression on a two-time Pro Bowler who will be playing in the Super Bowl. Joe Staley was a 49ers' first-round draft pick out of Central Michigan in 2007. He got to know Jones who took the reigns at CMU that same year, after Staley had finished his playing career under Brian Kelly.
"Butch is an awesome person," said Staley. "I talked to him a lot when he was at Central (Michigan). He's a super great guy, very fiery, very intelligent football coach. I know he's going to do great at Tennessee. I'm real happy to see him have the success that he's had."
Several other new Tennessee coaches received high praise from players they coached in college as they played a vital role in helping them reach the NFL. Those Super Bowlers spoke about the impact some of the new men in orange made on their careers.
"I appreciate all of the things (Jancek) instilled in me," said Ellerbe, who made the Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2009 and racked up 92 tackles this season.
"(Jancek) made me a tough player and I thank him for that. He always pushed me harder and he always told me about my talent. He made me accountable for everything. It was awesome playing for him."
Along with Ellerbe, 49ers converted tight end Demarcus Dobbs played at Georgia working with Jancek on Martinez on the defensive side of the ball. While with the Bulldogs, Dobbs played both linebacker and defensive line before switching to the offensive side of the ball in the pros.
"Coach Jancek was an enthusiastic coach," said Dobbs, who has played in 12 games in each of the last two seasons with San Francisco. "He was the type of coach that would give you an opportunity. He was a guy that really tried to push you to get to the next level and to get to your full potential."
Martinez was similarly motivational for Dobbs.
"Coach Martinez is a hard-nosed guy," said Dobbs, who had 78 tackles and 41 quarterback pressures playing under Jancek and Martinez. "He wanted you to be the best at your craft. He didn't let you slack for one moment. That's what guys took from him and respected him for that. He wanted you to be the best you can be."
Tennessee's linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen was a driving force for two members of the Ravens in helping them reach that next level. Both linebackers Josh Bynes and Michael McAdoo are thankful for Thigpen's honesty and belief in their skills.
"(Thigpen's) tough and he's going to be hard on you, but at the same time he gets you to understand the game and how it's supposed to be played at your position," said Bynes, who played for Thigpen at Auburn.
"He worked with the linebackers and the defensive backs and he would make sure we were on the same page when it came to coverage so we would have better chemistry when we were out there."
McAdoo played under Thipgen while at North Carolina.
"Coach Thig was a great dude with the relationship that he had with the players," said McAdoo. "We could reach out to coach Thig, he could relate to us, because he had been there before. He had been in the same shoes as we had, as he played the game."
Bynes said Thipgen was always direct with the players and they appreciated that.
"He never sugar-coated it, because you can't sugar coat life," said Bynes, who captained Auburn to the 2010 National Championship. "He would be real with you, let you know how things were up front.
"The SEC is just like playing in the NFL. It's tough, it's hard, it's fast it's physical."
Coaches help raise the level of expectations for players. On Sunday, they will play for football's ultimate prize on Sunday. And they are grateful for that.