For once, the Tennessee football team has a “weak” nonconference schedule. I say bring on the cupcakes.
It’s been no secret; the Tennessee football team hasn’t been good. Vol nation has seen some of the worst football in program history in recent years.
Now there are a million reasons why that’s the case, like hiring Butch Jones. But, one that we always talk about but never pin to the lack of success is how tough the schedule is every single year.
The SEC is one of the best conferences in the nation. Okay, who am I kidding? The SEC is the best conference in the country, and it’s not even close. Some will tell you the gap is closing, and to some extent, that is true. However, the SEC is the best.
So, why schedule a tough nonconference?
In 2018, the Vols took on West Virginia in the first game of the season in a game they lost 40-14 basically in the second half. Georgia Tech didn’t hold the same weight as West Virginia but an ACC opponent.
2016, the Vols played in one of the biggest games in college football just because of the atmosphere of the Battle of Bristol. 2014 and 2015, Tennessee thought it would be a good idea to play Oklahoma and lost both games.
Even before that, Oregon appeared on the schedule as a top-5 team in the nation, and for what? What did Tennessee gain from playing such tough opponents?
Give me all the cupcakes.
In a decade that has only seen over seven wins twice, I think I can speak for Vol nation and say win, just win.
On Monday afternoon, ESPN released preseason rankings for the easiest nonconference schedules of the 2019 season. Tennessee popped up in the top 10.
The nonconference schedule includes Georgia State, BYU, Chattanooga and UAB. Those four teams appear to be a bit more manageable in recent seasons.
Moving forward, this is the way Tennessee should schedule, but they won’t. “We are Tennessee; we aren’t afraid of anyone.” True, but doesn’t it feel much better looking at a schedule knowing there are four wins?
The Vols have already committed to playing a tough nonconference schedule in years to come. 2020 holds Oklahoma. Pittsburgh is on the docket for 2021 and 2022. Oklahoma is back on the schedule in 2024, while Nebraska-Tennessee series starts in 2026.
The smart move is to get those easy wins on the schedule, especially while the program isn’t where it needs to be.