Tennessee football received a vote in the 2019 USA TODAY Amway Coaches Poll. The Volunteers getting it makes a mockery of a great tradition.
It doesn’t matter as much as it used to. But the Coaches Poll has a deep history with the NCAA, and traditionalists should respect its history. As a result, Tennessee football receiving a vote in the 2019 preseason Coaches Poll is embarrassing and makes a mockery of the sport.
If you ever needed proof that this poll never should have been deciding national champions, outside of the fact that Steve Spurrier used to give the Duke Blue Devils a vote every year before David Cutcliffe restored the program, this is it. UT has no business getting any recognition in this poll…yet.
Although the preseason polls are based on projections combined with what a team has done in the past, some things should eliminate teams until they prove it. Tennessee football is one of those teams who should be eliminated.
A college football team that goes 4-8 and 5-7 in back to back seasons, losing six games by 25 or more points in its most recent season, should not receive one vote in the Coaches Poll, regardless of what happened in the offseason. Any team with the Vols’ background should have to prove it on the field.
Now, they have a chance to do that. An easy schedule could get them to 3-0, and if they have the talent that many analysts say they do, they could be earning their way into the actual top 25 by mid-October.
For now, though, they should not be receiving any recognition. It embarrasses a part of the sport that we all love. Sure, it doesn’t devalue the poll the way Paul Hornung winning the Heisman over Johnny Majors devalued the Heisman in 1956. But it is still a minor embarrassment.
What will be even worse is if Jermey Pruitt, who is one of the voters in this year Coaches Poll, was the guy to deliver that vote. He should be dead-set on improving his team, and something like that would just be embarrassing.
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Tennessee football has enough on its plate. The Vols do play three teams who did begin the year ranked in the polls in the Alabama Crimson Tide, Georgia Bulldogs and Florida Gators. Alabama and Georgia are both in the top three, and Florida is in the top 10, making their schedule look pretty brutal despite all the easy games.
They also have to play the Mississippi State Bulldogs, Kentucky Wildcats and South Carolina Gamecocks, all of whom received more votes than them in the poll but aren’t in the top 25. So there are enough chances at quality wins this year to earn the Vols some recognition.
But if they are ever ranked this year, it should not be until they beat any one of those teams. And if they do make it to 3-0, that will be worthy of receiving votes in the polls but not actually being in the top 25.
Their five-game stretch of Florida, Georgia, Mississippi State, Alabama and South Carolina should determine that. If they come out of their 2-3, they’ll belong. Heck, if they win any of the first three, they’ll have a case. Until then, though, keep them out.