Tennessee finally found its new athletic director after a long search when it hired John Currie away from Kansas State. As Currie prepares to take on his new job, he’s been catching up on all things Tennessee — including coach Butch Jones and the football program.

While many Tennessee fans would have liked to see longtime coach Phil Fulmer get the AD job, Currie landed the position. However, he said he will make sure the title-winning coach is a big part of the program moving forward.

In fact, he told The Commercial Appeal that Fulmer’s coaching tenure, during which the Volunteers won the 1998 national championship, will be the standard he expects Jones to live up to:

“The expectations are defined by the history,” he said. “Tennessee is a championship-level program and that’s where you want to get to. But one of the things I’ve learned from Coach [Bill] Snyder at K-State is what you have to focus on, and that is, are we getting better today than we were yesterday? If you get away from that principle and think about where you want to get to eventually, you’re doing it wrong.

“We’ve got to focus on where we are today, and will we be better tomorrow, and continue to build through that process. We all know how competitive the conference is, and how competitive college football is. … I think Coach Jones is on the right trajectory.”

Though Currie sounds confident in the Vols’ coach, it’s safe to assume that Jones will need another strong record this fall in order to keep his job.

If the Vols sputter down the stretch again, Currie could have his first coaching search on his hands this winter.