Sep 4, 2013
By Alex Cate UTSports.com
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The success of any great collegiate football team is directly correlated to the spirit and atmosphere of their student section.
That, according to Tennessee head football coach Butch Jones, is why he felt the need to meet with on campus leaders Tuesday to express his gratitude for the turnout at Saturday's home opener against Austin Peay but to also to challenge them to continue that effort throughout the season.
"We're going to bring Tennessee back to its rightful place amongst the college football elite," said Jones to a room of more than 50 students. "Part of our success starts with you, and making sure you're getting students out to Neyland Stadium on Saturday."
Jones reached out to the students late last week, desiring to meet with them in order to share his vision for the program and for the student's that stand behind it.
What he got was a room full of campus leaders including fraternity and sorority chapter leaders, Greek council leaders and student government representatives.
"We talk about leaders in our team and having influence," said Jones. "Leaders are people who have tremendous influence and that's why there are good leaders, and there are bad leaders. You all have tremendous influence throughout campus and we need you guys to continue to show up on Saturday and use your influence in a positive direction for our football program."
Saturday night's attendance of 97, 169 fans was the fourth biggest crowd on college football's opening weekend. The students accounted for more than 10,000 of that crowd.
Jones attributed Austin Peay's delay of game penalties and unwanted time outs to the atmosphere created by the student section.
He also clued students in to his plans to re-brand the student section after the season wraps up. The first year Tennessee coach said he wants to hold a campus-wide competition to name the student section. "It will be a chance for you all to market this athletic program and create a brand that you're proud of," he said.
The reception from the students in attendance was positive as well. After a quick tour of the new Anderson Training Center, the group met with Jones in the state of the art team room where the Vols host their team meetings.
"It was special," said Bo Johnson, a senior and vice president of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. "I thought it was awesome of Coach Jones to take the time to meet with us. It's definitely something that wouldn't have happened in the past."
The Vols defeated Austin Peay 45-0 Saturday. Team 117 will take on the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Sept. 7 at 12:21pm.