Gerald Jones didn't offer any apologies - only an explanation.
Yes, Jones had spoken to Wright before he signed with Auburn over UT. Yes, he extolled the virtues of former UT coach Trooper Taylor who is now at Auburn. But that doesn't mean he didn't say even more positive things about his beloved UT.
"The young man called me not too long ago, about a week ago, and he was stuck in a sticky situation like all recruits were and I was at one point in my career," Jones said during an interview on The Drive on 100.3 WNOX. "He was really just asking me about Tennessee and about Trooper Taylor, and I just told him all the positive stuff that I could tell him about Tennessee and about Troop."
As for those that think a still strong relationship with Taylor might outweigh Jones' four years at UT, Jones insisted that's not the case.
"I go into the process, and I try to list all the very good things about the program," Jones said. "I don't have anything negative to say about Tennessee. I think that's selling the school already as it is, listing all the good things about it."
Jones said he's not sure how Wright got his cell phone number, but given Taylor and Jones' relationship, it's reasonable to think Taylor offered it up. Taylor didn't respond to phone calls and text messages on Wednesday.
Nevertheless, Jones said he welcomed the call and is always there to help any prospect as an unbiased mentor.
"I try my best to not be persuasive, because I don't want to be a part of persuading somebody to go to a particular place and it turns out (bad)," Jones said. "I list all the great benefits of playing at a school like Tennessee, that's the only school I really can sell because that's the only school I've been to. For people to say that I persuaded the guy to go to Auburn, how could I persuade him to go to a place that I've never been?"
Aside from the positives associated with Taylor, Jones told Wright he assumed the Tigers would know how to win given their recent national championship. Other than that, Jones just encouraged Wright to make his decision on his own.
"I told him at the end of the day, he's got to make a decision for himself because he's the one that's got to spend three-to-five years at the university," Jones said. "The parents and families and friends shouldn't have any say-so over where these kids go, because they spend the time there. It's their lives that they've got to spend at the university. That's what I told him, and he's got to make the decision at the end of the day. Unfortunately he didn't choose to go with the Vols, but you've got to be happy for the guy because he's in this position to make the decision. Some people don't get the opportunity. It sucks that he didn't come with the Vol Nation, but you can still be happy for him that he gets the chance to play in college."
In retrospect, Jones seemed a bit surprised that one phone call would cause internet chat boards and talk radio show to explode with complaints. Amidst months of recruiting, Jones didn't see how the brief conversation could have much of an effect.
"I would say when we got off the phone I hadn't helped him at all, because I said a lot of good stuff about Auburn and a lot of good stuff about Tennessee -- no negative, because I don't have any animosity to either school. He was still probably in the same place he was before he called me," Jones said. "I don't have anything negative to say about Tennessee. … The positive stuff I said about Auburn is very limited, it's stating the obvious. More than anything I told him about Troop, that he's a good guy, a loyal guy, and he's going to shoot you straight -- just as I will."