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A former Tennessee player accuses Butch Jones of talking badly about him to the NFL and threatening others with scholarship probation

There’s a lot we’ll never know about this story, though.

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NCAA Football: Southern Mississippi at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Butch Jones’ firing by Tennessee over the weekend led to accusations from a former player that the now-former Vols football coach talked negatively about him to NFL scouts and used scholarship probation to threaten players during his years in Knoxville.

Former Tennessee running back Marlin Lane played for Jones on Rocky Top in 2013 and 2014. Lane joined the 4th and Truth podcast Monday and said Jones was verbally abusive toward him. He then laid out a couple of other allegations.

One allegation: that Jones ripped him to the NFL

“During my NFL career, trying to go to an NFL career, I got back on a couple of agents that some teams wouldn’t accept me because I had bad character,” Lane said. “I had bad character. I had also not met up to the criteria that [Jones] was looking for. I wasn’t talented enough. I was a bad influence on teammates, and a whole lot of things.”

Lane’s interviewer asked him if he was saying that Jones told NFL scouts that he had “bad character and stuff,” and the former running back responded, “Yes.”

“My agent — God bless, he's dead — Mr. Eugene Parker, he was my agent at the time, and I knew him since I was in high school ... After my college career, you know, we was on the phone. He talked to teams and a couple of them saying that my character, my off-field habits also [were bad], and that I couldn't read playbooks, stuff like that. And I went through four offenses in four years at UT, so reading a play book and kind of doing all that wasn't ever a problem with me.”

Lane went undrafted in 2014 and never played in an NFL game.

Another allegation: Jones tried to run players off the team

"He used me to somewhat run, try to run a couple of players off the team that he didn't want on there,” Lane said. “You know, like threaten kids' life. It's either his way or he'll, you know, take their future away from them or put them on a one-year scholarship probation."

It’s important to consider both allegations in context

The worst is verbal abuse. Lane says Jones told him he could “end his career” and seems to suggest those comments were made in a threatening manner. That would be awful, though it’s hard to assess Jones’ alleged comments without knowing more.

On the NFL charge, what Lane says Jones did might be bad. It also might be normal and understandable. College coaches regularly give candid, brutal evaluations of their own players to NFL evaluators, because not doing so would cost them credibility and hurt their players’ chances of being drafted in future seasons. There's no way to assess Jones' intentions without hearing from him on the situation.

On the charge that Jones tried to run players off his roster, that certainly wouldn’t be nice, and unpaid athletes shouldn’t be cast off like NFL practice squad guys. But it’s the norm in major college football, where programs get 85 scholarships and sometimes try hard to get players off the books if they’re down on the depth chart. It’s not clear what Lane means by Jones trying to use him to run players off the team. What Lane alleges about threatening players with scholarship probation also isn’t clear.

Previously, one of Jones’ recruits in the class of 2018 said the fired coach told him to look for another school just after being fired. Tennessee fans didn’t like that story, though coaches recruiting players from their previous schools isn’t unusual. Neither would be urging a player to keep all of his options open before Signing Day.

(h/t 247Sports)