When he walked into his office as Troy’s ninth athletic director, Brent Jones took over the job previously held by one of his best friends and mentor, Jeremy McClain.
“Jeremy and I go way back,” Jones said. “Jeremy and I worked together at Southern Miss for three years.
“I did not know him before that, but we built a very quick and strong relationship.”
Jones worked with McClain at Southern Miss before coming to Troy in 2017. As deputy athletic director at Troy, Jones said he and McClain worked side by side and made almost every decision together.
McClain entrusted and empowered Jones to make decisions by putting him on the search committees who hired head football coach Chip Lindsey and men’s basketball coach Scott Cross.
“I didn’t want Jeremy to leave,” Jones said. “But I’m very happy for him that he got an opportunity to go back home to Southern Miss.
“Jeremy is as good of an athletic director as there is in America. He left us in an amazing position of strength, so I really feel our momentum and trajectory is headed in the right way.”
When he took over the department in June, Troy Athletics, in the span of five months, had seen changes in coaching and department leadership from football to basketball.
But Jones has a positive outlook on the future of Troy athletics moving forward.
“The future’s bright,” he said. “There’s only, I believe, five schools in America that have won more than 31 games the last three years in football.
“For the first time in the history of Troy University football since we’ve been Division 1-A, we led the Sun Belt Conference in football attendance. That never happened before.”
Jones’ vision for Troy Athletics is based on what he calls the W-4 approach. His expectation for Troy Athletics is to win in four areas: the classroom, the community, the playing field and the stands.
“My expectations are this, and the head coaches know this,” Jones said. “We’re going to compete at a high level.
“We’re going to do it with integrity. We’re not going to break the rules, but we’re going to win conference championships, and we want to win the Bubas Cup.”
The Sun Belt Conference awards the Bubas Cup to the school with the best athletics department based on a metric that scores all athletic teams from the school.
Over the past few years, Troy Athletics has seen great success and won championships in multiple sports and broken ticket sales records, but Jones sees an opportunity for even more.
“We’ve set all-time attendance records in men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, softball and football. We need to break those.”
One role Jones had as deputy and still has is football scheduling.
When scheduling, especially non-conference games, Jones keeps the fans in mind.
“Looking at some guaranteed games, we have South Carolina, Tennessee, Clemson and Ole Miss,” he said. “We want our fans to be able to drive to those games.”
Even with farther away games like Kansas State, Nebraska and Missouri, Jones still sees these games as an opportunity.
“When we played Nebraska, that opened up our brand to a different part of the country maybe they didn’t know, so we’re really excited about that,” Jones said.
Fan support is something Jones calls paramount. When Troy played LSU two years ago, Troy brought over 4,000 fans.
“The quote from an LSU administrator was the crowd you brought was a visiting SEC crowd,” Jones said. “Our fan base is galvanized, and that’s what we’re excited about.”