6. 1928 Tennessee Volunteers
9-0-1 (6-0-1 SoCon)
We go back to the early Neyland years. During his first stint as Tennessee football’s head coach, he actually had one of the most impressive runs in school history. From 1926 to 1932, he lost only two games in total. Meanwhile, the Vols had five years during that period in which they just had one tie and won every other game.
One of those years was this year, the second year of an three-year undefeated streak in which they only had three ties. Tennessee was the class of the Southern Conference along with the Alabama Crimson Tide and Georgia Tech Golden Tornadoes (now Yellow Jackets).
This year, there were split national champions between Georgia Tech and the USC Trojans. Tech, which played in the same conference as the Vols, did earn it by going undefeated overall without a tie, 10-0 and 7-0 in the conference.
However, USC, like Tennessee, was able to claim a split with them because they went 9-0-1, just like the Vols. There one tie was against the Cal Golden Bears, who were 6-2-2 in the time. Despite Georgia Tech beating Cal in the Rose Bowl, during the regular season, it was deemed that they were an extra tough opponent GT didn’t have to play.
And using that logic, it’s only fair if Tennessee football claims a national championship at the same time. The Vols beat the same elite teams in the regular season Georgia Tech beat that year, including Alabama and the Vanderbilt Commodores. However, they had an extra tough game against the Kentucky Wildcats, who had a winning record on the year like Cal.
Tennessee football tied that game. As a result, it’s only fair to use the method used to crown USC national champs and give one to the Vols.