Tennessee football missed a bowl game again in 2018 at 5-7. But history shows the Volunteers could certainly rebound in 2019, Jeremy Pruitt’s second year.
Jeremy Pruitt’s first year on Rocky Top marked the second straight season Tennessee football suffered a losing record and missed a bowl game. With a 5-7 record and 2-6 SEC record, it marked the fifth time this decade both those things would happen and the sixth time they would finish with a losing season.
So heading into 2019, it’s safe to say this is one of the worst decades in UT history. However, the decade does not have to end that way. A losing season in 2018 does not mean that a bad 2019 is on the way.
If you know anything about the history of Tennessee football, you know that to be the case. The Vols have a long history of incredible rebounds after seriously disappointing seasons. It dates back to the beginning of their program.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at some of those rebound years. This is our judgment of the best seasons the Vols ever had that came a year after they suffered a losing record and missed a bowl game. To be fair, they never made bowl before 1938, so we’ll obviously only have to factor in losing records to that point.
Also, since we’re factoring in all of UT history, we need to say up front that 1894 won’t count. The Vols rebounded that year after 1893, but it was an unofficial team, so they didn’t officially start counting again until 1896. They did go 4-0 in 1896 after 2-5 was their most recent record before that, which was 1893. But the confusion has to eliminate these seasons.
Otherwise, though, anything goes. Sometimes these rebound seasons involved championships. Also, they could have come under veteran coaches who rebounded after being put on the hot seat, or they could have happened under a rising coach who just had a rough first year like Pruitt did.
Simply put, there are a lot of different moods that could have surrounded those losing seasons, and the mood swings could have been totally different that came with the subsequent winning seasons. But these were all great turnarounds for Rocky Top.
So let’s go ahead and break down years in which the Vols rebounded to give some hope to the 2019 team. These are the 10 greatest Tennessee football seasons after suffering a losing record and missing out on a bowl game.