As a Tennessee fan for close to 30 years, I have to say this is the worst I've ever seen the program. When Majors came back in '77 it was little before my time, but I got to see him turn around the program in the early 80's. UT is in the top ten winningest programs in all of college football, second winningest program in the SEC. Thier success has been remarkable over the years since they have to recruit so hard to get the players, unlike Florida, LSU and Georgia where they just bring recruits in on buses from around the state and sign'em up. I have no doubt that Tennessee will be back competing for championships again if they get the right HC and staff
When there’s turmoil in the SEC, the guy most writers go to for a quote is Steve Spurrier. And South Carolina’s coach had no trouble talking about the turmoil Tennessee is facing in its football program right now:
“It can happen to any program. The sun doesn’t always shine on the same dog all the time, as we know. Tennessee, I think is a very good coaching job, certainly with a huge stadium and tradition and everything they’ve got there.
But Tennessee’s got to recruit pretty much all over the nation. They’ve got to get players to leave their home state area and come to Tennessee. And it seems like in the last, oh, 10 years, 20 years, almost all the home states are getting their programs up to where the kids will not leave their state. I think that’s a little bit different now that it was several years ago. (Coaching at Tennessee) is maybe not as easy of a job as it was 10, 20 years ago.”
Spurrier is spot-on in terms of Georgia, South Carolina and Louisiana all being tougher “pulls” for UT now than during 1990s. As UGA, USC and LSU improved, those borders became harder to cross for a school that boasts little in-state talent.
Another issue facing Tennessee — to hear UT assistants and some other outside coaches tell it — is the school’s recent attempts to improve itself academically. There’s a growing feeling in the Volunteer fanbase that UT is no longer allowed to bring in as many sub-par students as some of its SEC rivals.
Of course, when Vanderbilt whips you 41-18 as happened this past Saturday, it might be time to stop using higher academic standards as an excuse. Vandy’s standards certainly haven’t gotten in James Franklin’s way as he’s led the Commodores to a 5-3 SEC mark. Tennessee is currently 0-7 in SEC play for the first time ever.
And so far as I can tell, the Vols are still wearing helmets on Saturdays, not mortarboards.