Since Ol' Mizzou has become a member of the SEC, they have been routinely overlooked. Tennessee however has had no such issues. Yet again, Tennessee is being vaunted as a power to be reckoned with in the East. If this seems a familiar refrain that's because it is. Tennessee has been tabbed to compete for the SEC East title nearly every year since Missouri has been a member. The repetitive narrative being that the Butch Jones team has recruited well and is bursting at the seams with talent. They are a team poised to take college football by storm. The problem is, it never happens, or at least hasn't happened in recent memory and certainly not while the Tigers have been SEC members.
The Tennessee problem begins with SEC media. This group has proven to be an extremely insular club, feeding off the same repetitive narratives in a Southern ecco chamber. Aside from highly ranked recruiting classes based on an extremely flawed ratings systems, Tennessee has achieved nothing of note in anyone's recent memory. The Vols coach Butch Jones has received universal praise as a recruiter but his record does nothing to inspire praise. His coaching decisions on game days have often been odd and at times, downright disastrous. He is the equivalent of a army general who is effective at raising troops but hasn't the foggiest what to do with them in the field. Butch is 1-20 against ranked opponents since coming to Tennessee. Though to be fair, the trend predates Jones, with Tennessee losing 31 of its last 32 games against ranked opponents.
Now I'm not saying our Tigers coming off an extremely tumultuous season with a new coach should be favored to beat the Vols on the road. I'm simply saying no win for Tennessee should be a forgone conclusion. Tennessee however is almost uniformly being pick to win the East by the aforementioned SEC media.
Forget how Tennessee shouldn't be allowed to overlook a rebuilding Mizzou and consider the case of the reigning SEC East champs down in the Swamp. While the media isn't necessarily sleeping on Florida, Tennessee is being picked to top the league far more often than the Gators. This is again baffling to this blogger. My pick would easily be Florida. Florida seems to have the train back on the rails under Jim Mclwain. Florida has comparable talent, some long awaited stability at the quarterback position, and in my opinion a better coach. Not to mention, Tennessee hasn't beaten the Gators in 11 years. That's right ELEVEN years.
It would seem however that short of putting an oval Tiger logo on they're helmets, there is no amount of futility that can assuage SEC media from seeing greatness in the Tennessee program. Well color me skeptical. I for one feel it would be a prudent investment to buy a plane ticket to Vegas and bet the under on the Vols. Only time will tell but the best thing about the Tennessee problem is that they haven't been much of a problem for our Tigers.