By STEVE MEGARGEE
AP Sports Writer
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Former Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning says he’s “pulling hard” for Volunteers coach Butch Jones, who has received perhaps the toughest criticism of his five-year tenure over the last couple of weeks.
Manning said Friday during a campus visit that Jones “literally eats, sleeps and breathes” Tennessee football. Manning added that “I get texts from him at all hours about some concept or philosophy, and he’s all in.”
Jones had criticized media coverage of his program Monday and said “sometimes the negativity is overwhelming.” Tennessee lost 26-20 at Florida and edged Massachusetts 17-13 in its last two games.
Manning is being saluted for his College Football Hall of Fame selection during a halftime ceremony Saturday as Tennessee (3-1, 0-1 SEC) hosts No. 7 Georgia (4-0, 1-0).