Saying he was “deeply humbled and honored” to be named Arkansas State’s coach, Butch Jones got emotional Wednesday during an introductory press conference when thanking Alabama coach Nick Saban.
Jones has spent the last three seasons in an off-the-field role at Alabama under Saban.
He replaces Blake Anderson, who left Arkansas State to become Utah State’s new head coach. Utah State announced it had hired Anderson about an hour before Arkansas State made the hiring of Jones official.
Jones thanked those who reached out, citing 972 text messages.
“One of the biggest thank yous – and I’m gonna get emotional – is coach Saban and his wife Ms. Terry and really the entire Alabama football family. From Day 1, they welcomed a rival roach into their great family. Everyone there means so much to me and I’ll never ever ever be able to thank them enough.
Jones spent five seasons as coach of the Tennessee Volunteers, going 34-27, though just 14-24 in the SEC, but it was clear he holds dear his time in Tuscaloosa.
“These past three years has been extremely rewarding in so many ways. I’ve been able to reflect and evaluate everything we’ve been able to accomplish in our three previous places: study football, study coaches, then work on a daily basis with the greatest football coach of all time.
“Also, withing those three years, I was able to research, study and evaluate a number of different institutions and football programs. The program I kept coming back to was Arkansas State.”
Jones’ comments are in their entirety below and start at the 18-minute mark.
Mark Heim is a sports reporter for The Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Heim.