College Football

Tennessee's Jones criticizes media coverage of his program

By STEVE MEGARGEE

AP Sports Writer

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee coach Butch Jones criticized the media coverage of his program Monday while responding to a question about an injured player.

In the final question of his Monday press conference, Jones was asked whether a teammate caused the injury that prevented defensive tackle Shy Tuttle from playing last week in a 17-13 victory over Massachusetts . Jones started out by saying "football is an emotional and a competitive game" before noting the injury wasn't caused by a teammate and that Tuttle merely landed on a helmet.

Jones then expressed his displeasure with the "drama" surrounding media coverage of Tennessee's program and cited "all the positive things we've done."

"I'm the caretaker of Tennessee football," Jones said during his two-minute outburst. "I'm here to develop and grow a football program, recruit the best possible student-athletes to represent the University of Tennessee and win football games and graduate our players. That's my responsibility. I take that very seriously.

"But also I love our kids and I'm going to protect our players, and I'm going to protect our program. Sometimes the negativity is overwhelming, and if everyone is Vol fans, how do we let our opponents use that in the recruiting process with fake news?"

Jones also said he would "fully anticipate" Tuttle being available for Tennessee's game Saturday with No. 7 Georgia (4-0, 1-0 SEC). The exact nature of Tuttle's injury hasn't been specified.

Jones' outburst came as he discussed the need for the Volunteers (3-1, 0-1) to show more passion as they prepare to host Georgia after two straight disappointing performances. Tennessee fell out of the Top 25 after a 26-20 loss at Florida and followed that up with a closer-than-expected victory over winless 27 +-point underdog UMass.

"We have to understand, what do we want out of our media?" Jones asked. "It's this place, with the drama."

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Updated September 25, 2017

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