Tennessee football, basketball have highest combined ranking since 1998

Smokey during Tennessee’s football game against Akron in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn., on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022.Kns Ut Akron Football Bp
Smokey during Tennessee’s football game against Akron in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn., on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022.Kns Ut Akron Football Bp /

Do you need anymore proof it feels like 1998? We couldn’t report this until it was confirmed, but with Tennessee basketball coming in at No. 11 in the Coaches Poll, which was revealed on Tuesday, more history is being made with Tennessee football this year.

The men’s basketball team is at No. 11 in both polls, as the AP Poll was released a week ago. Meanwhile, the football teams comes in ranked No. 3 in the AP Poll and the Coaches Poll. That’s an average ranking of No. 7 per poll.

Want to know the last time it was that high? You guessed it, during the preseason heading into the 1998-1999 season. Tennessee football reached No. 1 in the AP Poll and Coaches Poll on Monday, Nov. 9. That same week, the basketball team was set to tipoff at No. 9 in both polls.

Of course, the basketball team lost its opener to the Arizona Wildcats that night. A day later, the football team survived against the No. 10 ranked Arkansas Razorbacks in one of the craziest wins of all time. That allowed them to hold onto their No. 1 spot, but it was close.

Now, you could say there’s one other time the two teams had a high combined ranking, and that was when the men’s basketball program reached No. 1 in 2007. At the time, Tennessee football had ended the season ranked top 12 in both polls. However, they ended it a month earlier, so you can’t really take that into account.

Now, here’s the next goal for the Vols. They need to find a way to be in the top 10 in men’s basketball, football and women’s basketball all at once. The Lady Vols were No. 5 in the preseason AP Poll, and they’ll likely be as high in the Coaches Poll.

In 1998, Pat Summitt’s team was three-time defending champions, and they were No. 1 in both polls, so for one week with all of them playing, all three teams were in the top 10. It’ll be tough for football and men’s basketball to pull it off together, but there is a scenario where it could happen.

If the football team can hold off the Kentucky Wildcats this week, they’ll be top 10 regardless of what happens between them and the Georgia Bulldogs. Tennessee basketball opens the season officially the following Monday after UGA. They face the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles and Colorado Buffaloes that week.

Obviously, basketball should win both games, and football should easily beat the Missouri Tigers that Saturday, Nov. 12. If those two happen, there’s bound to be one top 10 team above the men’s basketball team lose, and at that point, both could crack the top 10.

Key, though, would be the Lady Vols winning their opener against the Ohio State Buckeyes on the road Tuesday, Nov. 8. They should walk away on top from that one, but you never know, especially with Kellie Harper working in so many new players.

Next. Vols' Week 8 stock report. dark

Simply put, it really does feel like 1998. Tennessee football has a lot of other things coming together for it. Back then, it was Phillip Fulmer, Jerry Green and Summitt. Now it’s Josh Heupel, Rick Barnes and Harper. We haven’t even touched on Tennessee baseball.