A face familiar to Tennessee fans will be traveling with the Alabama contingent to Knoxville this weekend.
On the SEC media teleconference Wednesday, Alabama coach Nick Saban said that Butch Jones will make the trip with the Tide for Saturday’s game against the Vols. Jones, Tennessee’s head coach from 2013 to 2017, now serves as an offensive analyst on Saban’s staff.
The analyst role prohibits Jones from working specifically with players on gameday, but Saban said Jones has been valuable in game-planning and helping the other offensive coaches, including offensive coordinator Mike Locksley.
“He works hard in terms of assisting our coaches in planning and preparation,” Saban said via Al.com. “Butch is a very bright guy and he’s done a really good job of that. Basically, what he does is assist Mike as much as possible. He always gives me a little summary of things he thinks we need to work on on offense just from an overall view from a thousand feet, which has been very helpful.”
Jones has traveled to all of ‘Bama’s away games this season, but Saban did acknowledge the benefit of having Jones at his side ahead of the Tennessee game. Jones recruited many players on the Vols’ roster.
“I think any time you have somebody on your staff that just coached at a place, he obviously knows more about the personnel, but their schemes on offense and defense are completely different from what they’ve been in the past so that’s no real advantage at all,” Saban said.
Jones is the latest former head coach Saban has brought onto his staff at Alabama. Locksley, once the head coach at New Mexico and later the interim at Maryland, was brought on as an analyst before being promoted to coordinator. Saban did the same with Steve Sarkisian and Lane Kiffin, though Kiffin bypassed the analyst role and was brought in as OC.
Jones went 34-27 at Tennessee before being fired with two games remaining in the 2017 season. After a tumultuous coaching search, the Vols brought in Jeremy Pruitt following a two-year stint as Saban’s defensive coordinator for the Tide.
At his Monday press conference, Saban was very complimentary of the job Pruitt has done thus far.
“I think he’s doing an outstanding job. If you just look at the team’s improvement from the beginning of the year until now, it’s pretty phenomenal,” Saban said. “The team plays with great discipline, lots of toughness and give great effort — all the intangible things you have a chance to affect as a coach.“
Tennessee improved to 3-3 by upsetting then-No. 21 Auburn on the road last week. The win snapped an 11-game SEC losing streak.
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