Not being ranked doesn’t always mean doom and gloom for Tennessee football. Here are the Volunteers’ 10 best years with no AP or Coaches Poll finish.
After a strong finish to 2019 to offset a slow start, everybody is excited about the future of Tennessee football under Jeremy Pruitt. Going 8-5 and not finishing in the top 25 is not the overall goal of Vol fans, but it’s a start to boost their morale.
Of course, that strong finish did not propel them into the top 25 at the end of the year. That’s one drawback. However, Even if the goal is to compete for championships and finish in the top 10, UT can still have some enjoyable seasons when they don’t finish ranked.
In fact, there are plenty of seasons in history when Tennessee football had some major accomplishments despite not finishing in the top 25. This past season certainly falls in the realm of those seasons.
As a result, we’re going to break down those memorable seasons in which the Vols didn’t finish ranked. To qualify, it has to be any season dating back to 1936, the first year of the AP Poll’s existence. UT finished No. 17 that year with a 6-2-2 record, and that was also memorable for it being Robert Neyland’s first year in his second stint.
Anyway, we should note that these seasons aren’t the standard for Rocky Top. They just happen to have had some positive things about them despite the finish not being a good one, making them very similar to the season Pruitt just finished.
Since there are obviously no championships or rankings that go with such seasons, our criteria is pretty simple. We’ll rank them based on the record of each team, their schedule strength and how recent or far back each season goes.
We won’t even take into account the morale of the team after each season, which would account for expectations heading into the year. None of that is relevant here. Knowing all that, let’s get started. These are the top 10 seasons in Tennessee football history in which the Vols failed to appear in the final AP or Coaches Poll.