First of all Tennessee fans, I’m sorry for all the hype most of us produced prior to the 2020 season. Where does the program go from here?
After going through Lane Kiffin, Derek Dooley and Butch Jones, this fanbase has really suffered. While other programs who were in worst situations than Tennessee are successful. Most fans like to say before every season “it feels like ’98,” but in fact, nothing feels like the ’90s. where Tennessee reigned supreme.
What’s the recipe for a successful rebuild? It was quoted by our own coach Jeremy Pruitt after beating Indiana in the Gator Bowl that “it’s the decade of the Vols,” but it’s the exact opposite.
Pruitt is currently sitting 2-5 in this new decade and going on the verge of finishing 3-7. Pruitt is still running this program like it was in the ’90s and that type of college football is outdated, and just doesn’t work.
Nick Saban was quoted saying “I do think the days of playing great defense and winning are probably behind us” and that’s coming from Pruitt’s mentor. If you look back at the past five years of national champions you’ll see one common theme: offensive efficiency.
Offense is hard for Tennessee, especially when the head coach believes seniors have the upper hand on playing time and not pure talent. Tennessee ranks 115th in the country in overall offense. Yes, you read that correctly.
Another reason why this program can’t repeat what it did in ’98 is that in-state recruiting is not what it used to be. The top-three players in the state of Tennessee for the 2021 class are going to Clemson, Michigan and Ohio State.
Not only are you going to lose recruiting battles to those teams because they’re winners, but Pruitt has also lost to Alabama, Florida and Georgia by 20-plus points each meeting.
Finally, you have to adapt to the culture of modern college football. It’s the little things young men look at. For example, Pruitt wanting to keep a more “traditional” look by not allowing players to wear white cleats.
Current college players weren’t even born the last time Tennessee won a national championship. Recruits look at two main things: how can you help me get to the NFL and how are we going to win?
Tradition doesn’t matter anymore. I mean look where tradition has gotten Florida State and Nebraska. Unfortunately Vol fans, we’re a long way from ever being the caliber that this program use to be.
Buckle up and grab a box of tissues for the rest of this season!