Coach Butch Jones has finally found his sea legs among the powerhouse coaches and teams of the Southeastern Conference, but the future of Tennessee Volunteer football remains unclear.
After a few expected wins and a couple slaughters, the Vol program finally smoothed out most of the bumps that undoubtedly arise under new management and with a new roster of players. They nearly pulled out a win against Georgia at home before falling in overtime. The momentum continued from there to propel them to a close (23-21) but still upset-inducing win over the 11th-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks.
This year marks a transition in Tennessee football. Butch Jones was called in to completely turn around the program after several lackluster seasons. Upsetting the Gamecocks awarded Jones his signature win. It was the first triumph over an SEC team since 2009 and the first against a ranked team in four years. Pair that with the fourth-ranked recruiting class according to 247sports.com and the Vol fans have much to hope for in the future.
The past two games have made it clear the team is rallying behind their new coach in preparation for what appears to be a strong future. The question is this: can the Vols stay afloat after facing the army of ranked SEC opponents that stand before them?
Over the next three weekends, Tennessee will go head-to-head with No. 1 Alabama, No. 5 Missouri, and No. 11 Auburn, respectively. The South Carolina game may not even be remembered afterwards if the Vols are crushed by any or especially all of these teams. How they respond to such high-caliber opponents will greatly effect the propulsion of the program from here.
While this year’s chances of a title are all but out of the question, the future of the Tennessee Volunteers appears to be bright.