Tennessee head coach Butch Jones had to face a lot of hard questions at his press conference Monday thanks to the news that top rusher Jalen Hurd plans to transfer, and Jones didn’t handle some of those well. He got combative at plenty of points, then said 15 minutes in that he wouldn’t answer any more questions on Hurd (the most newsworthy topic of the day), and then got mad at a reporter who left early. Here’s video of the press conference: the reporter’s question about his job security comes at the 21:53 mark, and then he complains about her exit in a speech that starts at 25:49.
— Teran Johnson (@TeranJSports) October 31, 2016
Here’s a transcription of what Jones said starting at 25:49:
“It’s probably been a great day for y’all, y’all got a lot to write about. …I guess the thing that’s more concerning is when there are things out there that are truly false. I take this program personally, I’m the caretaker of this football program. People can put anything out there and it gains legs and it’s the furthest thing from the truth. And that’s why I don’t really listen to anything, I don’t pay any attention. You know, where’s our young lady? She asked her question and left. I mean, why didn’t she stay here for the whole press conference? You know, so, you know, I’ve been a head coach for a while, I get it and we’re all moving forward. This football team’s fine, this program’s fine, I love our fanbase. Everything is fine, we’re going to be just fine.”
You know, I think we’ve heard that last part before, perhaps in K.C. Green’s Gunshow:
So, congratulations, Butch, you’ve unintentionally referenced a meme that seems relatively apt for the state of your program. It’s the getting irked at the reporter for leaving early that’s particularly odd, though. Reporters leave press conferences early all the time, often because they have to hit a filing deadline, and if you’ve already given them the answer they’re going to write about, why should they sit around for more? That’s particularly true in this case, where Jones made it clear after 15 minutes that he wouldn’t talk any more about what most people wanted to ask him about.
The reporter in question waited through 22 minutes of Jones not saying very much to ask her question, and she did so in a pretty fair manner (questions about Jones’ job security are absolutely fair at this point, and she phrased it “A lot of people out there are questioning your leadership and your future with the team. What do you have to say to that?”, which is really offering Jones an opportunity to make a case for his continued employment). Jones has “been a head coach for a while,” sure, but he doesn’t seem particularly great at conducting press conferences or dealing with the media. The shot at the reporter for leaving early felt particularly misplaced; Jones should have bigger concerns on his mind, such as how he’s going to hang on to his job if things keep going like this. Also, given how Jones went on to channel the “This is fine” dog, perhaps she was smart to get out when she did.
[Teran Johnson on Twitter]