Coach Butch Jones hopes to drum up support among student fans

Coach Butch Jones hopes to drum up support among student fans

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"I have to do a much better job as head coach of getting our student body involved. We should sell out our student body tickets every single home game," said Coach Jones. "I have to do a much better job as head coach of getting our student body involved. We should sell out our student body tickets every single home game," said Coach Jones.
Last year the student section sold out during the Florida and Alabama games. Last year the student section sold out during the Florida and Alabama games.

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – After another rough weekend for the Vols, Coach Butch Jones says it's his goal to pump up fan excitement.

With a loss in Gainesville, the Vols record is now 2-2, but the excitement over Coach Jones' first season can still be felt on campus and off, and the numbers prove it.

The season opener against Austin Peay had a nearly sold out student section; 10,000 of the more than 12,000 seats were filled with fans bleeding orange.

"It was a whole lot of fun, I don't think I sat down the whole game," said UT freshman Ethan Vanoye.

It's an enthusiasm that's been lacking for the last several years.

"I haven't seen students this excited since Phillip Fulmer was here," said UT senior Jake Heaton.

Heaton has been to nearly every football game since he was a kid.

"My blood's been running orange since I was born," he said.

Heaton says the change is all thanks to Coach Jones, but at Monday's press conference Jones says he wants to see Neyland's crowd grow.

"I have to do a much better job as head coach of getting our student body involved. We should sell out our student body tickets every single home game," said Coach Jones.

Austin Peay had 10,000 in attendance in the student section, while Western Kentucky had 7,000. This years average of 8,500 is well above last year's of 5,000.

Last year the student section sold out during the Florida and Alabama games.

Heaton says he's seen the difference at Neyland, likening Jones' enthusiasm to Bruce Pearl's, who was a master at drumming up fan support.

"When Bruce Pearl came in he riled up the fans, the students wanted to be there," Heaton recalls of the former UT basketball coach.

Coach Jones says he's ready to do what it takes.

"That is the expectation we have and it's up to me, I'll do anything and everything for our student body and we need them," said Coach Jones.

One thing Coach Jones has mentioned is a re-branding of the student section after the season wraps up. Earlier this month he said he wants to hold a campus wide competition to name the student section.

But fans say the best way to get them in the stands is by putting points on board.

"If the teams doing well definitely helps," said Vanoye. "If you've got a team to cheer for instead of one where you're waiting for [the game] to end, it's definitely better."

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