"I'm still amazed that when I talk to people and I bring up the success of this program in the last four years, it's minimized," Tennessee head coach Butch Jones said at his Wednesday press conference.
Jones has been mocked incessantly on the internet the last couple of days for his comment at his Monday press conference that his seniors had won the "championship of life."
That quote was taken out of context by many. Jones was asked about his emotions when the seniors walked through the T for the final time on senior day when he made the comment about them winning the championship of life.
Still, that comment is not something fans wanted to hear just a couple days after Tennessee missed an opportunity to win the SEC East division for the first time since 2007.
Wednesday, Mike Griffith, who covers the Vols for the website SEC Country, asked Jones if he had a special closeness with this particular team that led him to make that comment.
Jones mentioned that the team was different in its ability to block out outside distractions and brought up some of the things that aren't seen by the outside world like the brotherhood and sacrifice to each other and the time spent in the training room trying to get healthy.
Then Jones expressed his frustration with the minimization of Tennessee's success.
"I don't understand how it can be minimized," Jones said. "From the graduation, to being 14-3."
"I don't get it."
Jones said coaches around the country have already been in contact with him about coming to visit during bowl preparation to see what the Vols' staff has been doing to be successful.
Jones acknowledged that the Vols have work to do to improve and that it starts with him but he feels that he and his staff have built something special at Tennessee.
"Some people want to take their shots at us, whether it's champions for life, all that," Jones said.
"You know what, that's what life's all about, it's about being champions and having pride in your personal brand and your last name and everything that it stands for. We're proud of the University of Tennessee brand, we're proud of Tennessee football. Do we have a long ways to go? Yes, but are we excited about it and the journey and all of the seniors and what they've been through? Yes."
Jones has certainly taken the Tennessee program from an all-time low back to relevance.
When Jones arrived in December 2012, the Vols had just finished their third straight losing season. That hadn't happened at Tennessee since 1911.
The Vols record has improved in each season under Jones, going from 5-7 in his first season to 7-6, then 9-4 last season and now Tennessee is 8-3 with two games left to be played including a bowl game.
If Tennessee wins its final two games, it will have its first 10-win season since 2007.
That is certainly successful, but the expectation for Tennessee in 2016 was to win the SEC East.
The talent was clearly there to do so and even with a substantial amount of injuries the Vols were in position to win the division. An unexpected loss to South Carolina prevented that.
Upsets happen all the time. Just last week, top five teams Michigan and Clemson lost to unranked Iowa and Pittsburgh.
But, some Tennessee fans are angry that expectations were not met.
And some are even more angry that Jones won't acknowledge that they weren't met.
Fairly or not, that's why the success is "minimized" and why comments like "championship of life" are mocked.
In my opinion, the Vols should have won the SEC East, but the fact that they didn't doesn't mean this season is a failure. Tennessee still has lofty goals that it can accomplish.