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Athens celebrates Saban, but Cleveland rocks Butch Jones rally

Cleveland Rocks Butch Jones rally

Don’t get mad, get even, the old adage goes. And that’s exactly what some folks from Tennessee Sports Radio and the Bradley Sunrise Rotary of Cleveland, Tennessee have decided to do. Get even, that is. With the Athens Chamber of Commerce.

You remember this whole deal, right? The Athens Chamber of Commerce has invited Alabama coach Nick Saban to speak at their annual dinner in June. They put up billboards all over East Tennessee announcing as much in hopes of driving ticket sales.

But all they really succeeded in doing was driving the Vol Nation crazy.

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Because many have found these billboards objectionable. You know, the ones in our fair state that feature Nick Saban holding a national championship trophy while rocking an Alabama sweater and a smile that can best be described as smug?

Cleveland Rocks Butch Jones Rally

I for one, abhor these billboards. I’ve written about them before, and in that piece, I shared a text message sent to me by my buddy Como, an esteemed member of the “Basement Braintrust.” In that message, Como offered a solution to these pesky eyesores:

Cleveland Rocks Butch Jones Rally

But that seemed a little drastic, not to mention illegal. So option II was to put up billboards mocking the event, like this gem from my buddy @LoneNutVolFan (who is a great follow on Twitter):

Cleveland Rocks Butch Jones Rally

But that seemed a touch impractical. And, you know, probably a little expensive, too. I mean, those billboards can’t be cheap, right? So that approach really wouldn’t work, either.

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Cleveland rocks Butch Jones rally!

But some folks from Tennessee Sports Radio and the Bradley Sunrise Rotary have come up with an approach that works just fine. What’s more, it’s one that turns what many to perceive to be a negative — billboards right here in Tennessee which feature Nick Saban celebrating an Alabama national championship — into a positive — a good ol’-fashioned pep rally held in honor of new UT football coach Butch Jones.

When Jason Bailey, owner of Tennessee Sports Radio and co-host of the Erik Ainge Show, got a call from the Athens Chamber of Commerce asking if they could advertise the Saban dinner on TSR, he just about fell out of his seat. There was no way he was going to run such an ad on his station.

But what surprised him even more was that he seemed to be the only one in town to take that stance. Or so he gathered when ads for the event began popping up in magazines, on billboards and on other radio stations.

That’s when his wheels began turning: “If they (the Athens Chamber of Commerce) figured they can get 1,000 people to pay money to go see Saban, I knew we could get twice that many members of Vol Nation to come out to hear Butch Jones.”

Which is exactly what they’re hoping to do. Get 2,000 people to attend the Butch Jones rally. But it’s not all about one-upping Saban. Just ask Erik Ainge, host of TN Sports Radio’s Erik Ainge Show:

“The competition with the Saban event in Athens is fun, but our Cleveland Rocks Butch Jones event is really about Vol Nation showing support for the home team. Those who attend our event will be blown away by Butch Jones.”

To get the full skinny, I encourage you to check out the following stories from and But in the meanwhile, here are the key points you should know:

  • As mentioned before, the “Cleveland Rocks Butch Jones” rally will be held in Cleveland, which is a mere loft wedge from Athens.
  • It will take place on June 7 at Bradley Central High School where at least 2,000 people are expected to gather.
  • TN Sports Radio’s Erik Ainge will emcee the event which will also feature guest appearances by other former UT standout athletes, cheerleaders, marching bands — the whole nine yards.
  • And, of course, the headliner of it all — none other than UT football coach, Butch Jones — will be addressing the crowd.
  • And don’t let this little tidbit escape you: while proceeds from the event in Athens will benefit their chamber of commerce, every single penny from the “Cleveland Rocks Butch Jones” rally will be given to charity. And if that’s not the true Volunteer spirit, I don’t know what is!

Given how much press the event has already gotten, it’s likely that many of you have already heard of it. Still, I wanted to make sure to post about it here, if for no other reason than for the fact that I’m a HUGE fan of the sentiment behind this event, as well as thankful for the people who came up with the idea.

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You can get your tickets to the Cleveland Rocks Butch Jones rally at within the next two weeks. Tune into TN Sports Radio for more details by either setting your AM dial to 1180 (in the Knoxville area) or, if you’re outside the Knoxville, by downloading the TNSportsRadio app onto your smartphone.

See y’all in Cleveland.

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