Tennessee football not self-imposing a bowl ban even better than it looks

They aren’t out of the woods just yet, but Tennessee football is in much better shape with the NCAA than it has been over the past 10 months. A key decision by the university on Thursday is a good sign of things to come.

According to Brent Hubbs and Austin Price of VolQuest, the Vols have ended their internal investigation into NCAA violations that got Jeremy Pruitt fired, and they will not self-impose a bowl ban. Postseason play is on the table after all in Josh Heupel’s first year.

The key point in the matter, based on the report, is that all the Tennessee football players involved in the violations have transferred elsewhere and could play in postseason games themselves. Lesser penalties, the details of which are unclear right now, are still expected to be imposed. Here’s what was written about those.

Looking at previous case precedents involving recruiting—where the Tennessee violations occurred—those self-imposed penalties are expected to fall within the scope of recruiting itself. Those will likely include a reduction in scholarships over a period of time, a reduction in official visits and possibly recruiting travel restrictions and maybe others. Tennessee hopes that the sweeping nature of their self-imposed penalties will serve to show just how seriously they have taken their own investigation and it’s findings.

On the surface, this may not seem like a big deal. After all, this just means the university hasn’t imposed a bowl ban while the NCAA still could. However, based on the way the Vols have gone about the investigation, this is a bigger deal and a better sign than it even appears to be.

If the Vols had any reason to believe that the NCAA was going to impose a bowl ban, they would self-impose one. It’s like pleading guilty in a case. Their best bet for the long-term stability of the program would be to self-impose this bowl ban, likely allowing the NCAA to end its investigation more quickly and everybody moving on from this.

By refusing to impose one, though, they are making a strong case they don’t believe there should be one, and they are confident that one won’t come despite the NCAA still dragging this out. That’s got to be a good sign given how much easier it would have been to take the ban now.

There still may be a loss of scholarships that come with what happen, but not having a bowl ban should allow for recruiting to pick up. That would have been another reason to self-impose a penalty. Just get it out of the way now and don’t risk more long-term punishments.

Simply put, this is only good news for Tennessee football. It doesn’t mean nothing will come of the NCAA investigation, but at least the program is one step closer to putting all the drama of the Pruitt years behind it.