The Tennessee Vols are coming off a year in which men’s basketball was better than football. Here are the top 10 times that happened in Volunteers history.
Throughout its history, Tennessee football has taken precedence over Tennessee basketball. Tennessee Vols fans and administrators saw men’s basketball as a valuable sport, one to pull for, but not on the level of football.
It makes sense. While women’s basketball is clearly a different story given how much they have dominated in their short history dating back to the 1970s, football has had much more historical success than men’s basketball.
The Tennessee Vols have six national titles and 17 conference titles in football, 13 of those conference titles being in the SEC. Meanwhile, combining the chance to win the regular season and the tournament, men’s basketball has only 14 conference titles. And they have no national championships.
When it comes to postseason appearances, UT has appeared in 52 bowl games. Men’s basketball, on the other hand, has only made 22 NCAA Tournament appearances. When you add in their 13 NIT appearances, they still have only 35 postseason appearances, 17 less than football.
The Vols have had 44 top 25 finishes in football. Men’s basketball, meanwhile, has had only 33 seasons in which they were ever ranked at all and only 13 in which they finished in the top 25. Football has 13 top 5 finishes alone, something men’s basketball only accomplished once. Football also has 23 top 10 finishes compared to three for men’s basketball.
Simply put, in every way possible, football’s history is better than men’s basketball. As a result, it’s a very rare thing when men’s basketball has a better season. Don’t get me wrong, it happens. And there were many chances to do so during the eras of Ray Mears, Don DeVoe and every coach since 2005 due to football having rebuilding years during those times.
But even when men’s basketball is better, it’s only slightly better. How often is it significantly better? Well, that’s what we’re going to break down in this post. Coming off such a season, we’re going to look at the years in which men’s basketball was way better than football.
These rankings are based on how big the disparity was, not how good or bad either season was in particular. We’ll take into account championships, rankings, and anything else of historical significance to the program.
But it’s worth looking at the anomalies, and analyze the recent history to see if you think UT is becoming a basketball school. So let’s get started. These are the top 10 seasons in which Tennessee Vols men’s basketball significantly outperformed football.