Derek Dooley excelled at teaching players personal hygiene during his time at UT, but the performance of his teams on the field and in the classroom left issues for Butch Jones.
Less than 10 months into his tenure as Dooley's successor, Jones announced Tuesday that the Academic Progress Rate of UT's football program is no longer an issue.
"I think it is probably one of the greatest victories that we have had in Tennessee football," Jones said Tuesday of UT's progress in the APR, which is a metric developed to track the academic achievement of teams each academic term.
During Dooley's tenure from 2010-12, UT's football APR number fell from 937 to 924, which placed the Vols at risk of ineligibility for the postseason, per NCAA rules which state that any score under 930 is a failing grade.
Jones said the Vols finished the 2012-13 year with a score of 962, which would bring their four-year average to 938.5 and keep them punishment-free.
"Maybe you guys don't understand the magnitude of it," Jones said. "It's huge, and that is one of the things we have fought in the recruiting process."
Jones said the football team posted a perfect score of 1,000 for the spring semester. The numbers will not be officially released until the spring of 2014, but senior kicker Michael Palardy juxtaposed Jones' mindset towards academics compared to Dooley's.
"Huge emphasis," Palardy said. "It is always, 'You are here to get your degree, you are a student-athlete, not athlete-student.' School is first, your education is first and Coach Jones always preaches it to us."
Jones credited the Thornton Athletics Life Center and its new director, Joe Scogin for aiding in the cultural shift.
By comparison, senior defensive tackle Daniel Hood said Dooley's academic strategies lacked in execution.
"It just seemed like there was always an issue when Dooley was here," Hood said. "The class checkers didn't know who they were looking for and there were so many different things. I think the Thornton Center wasn't operating as good as it is now."
Although Tennessee's 2014 recruiting class is nearly full – and ranked No. 2 in the country by Rivals.com – Jones emphasized that putting the potential of APR-related punishments will be an aid to the Vols in attracting high school talent.
"That is one of the things that we have fought in the recruiting process," he said. "As you know, opponents, they're going to look and read everything and going to try and throw everything at their competition.
"Moving forward with the recruitment process, I thought it was critical at this stage of the game to announce that."