Why, the recent, rich tradition of Tennessee football, of course.
Since Phillip Fulmer’s last good season, in 2007, this is what Tennessee football has been: a losing program (78–82 overall, 36–70 in the SEC, zero East Division titles); a program in constant transition (Heupel is the sixth permanent head coach); and now a program immersed in a self-acknowledged major NCAA investigation that has months (perhaps years) left to unspool.
From ’08 to ’20, the Vols’ SEC winning percentage was .339. The only East Division programs lower than that are Kentucky and Vanderbilt. South Carolina (.481) and Missouri (.473 since joining the league in ’12) are well ahead of Tennessee.
The records against the teams the Vols used to battle in the East are frightful: Florida has won 15 of its last 16 against Tennessee; Georgia has won nine of its last 11. And the annual crossover rivalry against Alabama is a recurring nightmare—the Crimson Tide have won 14 straight.
That’s a helluva low bar to cross. Opportunity isn’t nowhere. It’s located in Knoxville.