VERIFY: Vol rumor mill churns into bye week

Eight women have filed a federal lawsuit against the University of Tennessee, claiming school officials protect male athletes when they commit crimes.
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Verify is a 10News project to separate fact from fiction in what you read online. Have something for our reporters to check out? Email verify@wbir.com

Friday, Twitter was buzzing with rumors about the Vols. At WNML Sports radio, so were the phone lines.

Will West hosts Sports 180, and says the Tennessee rumor mill has been out of control.

“It has, and frankly, it’s been irresponsible,” he said.

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Three big claims dominated social media. 10News is addressing these claims as part of its Verify project, which seeks not to spread false statements, but to help people separate truth from fiction.

FALSE: Butch Jones Arrest Rumor

The first, we can say right off the bat, appears to be false. A message board post on 247Sports claimed Butch Jones was arrested for DUI.


10News reporting has found no evidence to support that. Knoxville Police, Knox County Sheriff’s Office, Tennessee Highway Patrol and University of Tennessee Police all said they'd had no contact with Jones. He was also not booked into the county jail, according to arrest records. So, 10News can Verify that claim is false.

TRUE: Another fight at practice

The second claim is that a fight at football practice Thursday led to player injury. On Friday afternoon, Wes Rucker of GoVols24/7 said his sources confirmed a fight took place.

“We know there was an incident in Thursday practice between Darrell Taylor and Trey Smith,” he said. “We know for sure it was regular play, they were doing a drill and went to the ground, which happens at the line of scrimmage. Then things got heated, and there was little bit of altercation.”

A UT spokesperson had no comment, but multiple reports indicate that a fight occurred, so 10News can Verify it is likely true.

UNKNOWN: Jones is about to be fired

The final claim swirling is that Butch Jones is going to be out of job soon. This season, that conversation is nothing new.

“We you surprised that Butch survived the weekend?” West asked on his radio show.

“Yeah, I was because I thought getting thoroughly whipped by Georgia in Neyland Stadium would be a wake-up call to the Tennessee administration,” said Barrett Sallee, CBS Sports writer.

But, it’s impossible to predict the future, and a University spokesman denied Butch’s job is on the line.

West isn’t so sure.

“At the end of the day, it comes down to wins and losses,” West said. “So if Tennessee beats South Carolina, it’s going to get quieter. If Tennessee loses to South Carolina, I don’t think Butch Jones has a job on Monday.”

He said the false claims circulating should be a cautionary tale.

“For the most part, don’t believe it,” said West. “I’m not saying don’t go on the message boards, I’m not saying don’t go on Twitter. I am saying don’t believe everything that you see on there.”

Rucker agreed that the turmoil in the program could lend itself to rumors.

“I’ve been around for a number of these things where a coach looks like he’s trending downward, when these things happen, every little thing, every little pimple, every little wart is magnified and this is what the situation is,” Rucker said. “So you’re going to hear some things that true, you’re going to hear some things that are false, you’re going to hear some things that are partially true and partially false, the whole spectrum. It’s not the most enjoyable thing cover, but that’s what our job is to sit here and tell you what we know and what we don’t know.”

A spokesperson for the football program had no comment when asked about these rumors.