I think everyone knows Tennessee is in the midst of a dry spell, but until you see it spelled out, it’s hard to understand exactly how parched the last few years have been for the Vols.
Tennessee has not scored more than 17 points against Alabama since 2003. In that time, the Crimson Tide have won the SEC’s most famous cross-division rivalry eight out of 10 times.
Tennessee has not defeated Florida since 2004, losing the last seven by double digits.
Tennessee has lost its last two games to Vanderbilt.
These three opponents are essentially the signposts of a typical Tennessee season. For much of college football history, Alabama has served as a national measuring stick for Tennessee. For the last two decades, Florida has served as an SEC East measuring stick. And beating Vanderbilt has always been a foregone conclusion that emphasizes in-state superiority. The Vols have failed against all three lately, encapsulating the worst era in program history.
The paradigm has shifted, and a program that is in the top 10 in all-time wins next to Oklahoma, Alabama and USC instead ranks among the likes of Syracuse, Minnesota, California and Maryland over the last six years. Among those top-10 winningest programs, this is already the worst stretch any has had in the last 50 years, with four consecutive losing seasons (counting a 6-7 2010 season that ended with a bowl loss).
Oof. That’s truly sucking. And the likelihood that it’s going to turn around in a season when Jones has to rebuild both lines in their entirety? Not too hot, I’d think.