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Commentary: How will Butch Jones handle the bad news?

Basking in the afterglow of what Tennessee fans hope will be Coach Butch Jones milestone recruiting classes, it appears some current and former Vols football players let their hair down.
Some of the party animals let it down too much, according to arrest reports made public.
The off-campus party was hosted by former UT linebacker Dontavius Sapp. It took place at a local apartment complex and allegedly included weed, underage drinking and some fisticuffs.
In total, nine Vols were busted as Knoxville lawmen made some arrests after their initial request to break up the party was ignored, initiating the lawmen to return to the scene.
Senior linebacker A.J. Johnson attempted to stop the cops from taking a wasted Sapp into custody. When he allegedly grabbed a cop by the shoulder to prevent Sapp from being arrested it resulted in Johnson being handcuffed and arrested for resisting arrest.
Defensive lineman Danny O’Brien was among those arrested and taken into custody after putting up what was called a brief struggle.
It’s your move, Coach Jones.
You proved you can recruit a top-five nationally ranked class with more than 30 new Volunteers For Life on board.
Now we will see what kind of disciplinarian Jones is. Before early Sunday morning, Tennessee football players had, as far as we know, acted like gentlemen. None of them made headlines that embarrassed the program.
How will Jones handle the situation? First impressions are lasting impressions. The worst thing Jones could do is gloss over the incident under the guise of boys will be boys.
As close as Jones has appeared to be with his players, head coaches must always keep that separation between players and the coaching staff. There are times to be their buddy, but they have to realize if they step over the line, they will suffer consequences. We aren’t talking about running stadium steps at 5 a.m. We aren’t talking about doing community service.
We aren’t talking about keeping them out of spring football. That’s not a punishment. That’s every football player’s dream, to join other university students on spring break. Tennessee football players need to feel the pain. That will serve as a future deterrent when they feel like sowing their oats. 
There is nothing that gets a player’s attention like not being able to play football. The bench is a great motivator. I have full confidence Jones will do the right thing to strike the right chord.  
Tennessee football players must realize they represent not only the football program, but will be the face of the university. The mug shots of Johnson and O’Brien really don’t portray that. Mug shots taken after a night of drinking and partying rarely do.
Jones is trying to build a program Tennessee fans can be proud of. He uses the brick by brick formula. Football upperclassmen need to set an example for this freshman class, many of whom are already enrolled in class. Some of the gray shirts were reportedly at the party.
Three other football players, all linebackers in Curt Maggitt, Jakob Johnson and Jalen Reeves-Maybin allegedly provided booze and weed to underage party guests.  
Dontavius Blair, Dimarya Mixon, Justin Coleman and Malik Brown were cited for underage drinking. That’s setting a bad example for the younger players who will be the nucleus for this program.
So Butch Jones went from a euphoric state of mind over signing a top five recruiting class to being sucker punched in the gut by some of his selfish players.
It had to loosen some bricks. Jones will have to fortify the base and move forward.

Posted on: 2/13/2014


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