Ever since the firing of Phillip Fulmer, the Tennessee Volunteer Football program has been in constant turmoil. Lane Kiffin abandoned the Volunteers for a cushy job with the USC Trojans, and then his replacement Derek Dooley was fired prematurely. Now, the Butch Jones era has begun at the University of Tennessee. Jones may have inherited a mess, but his team has every opportunity to succeed this season.
Tennessee can make a bowl game. It sounds crazy, but the Volunteers’ schedule looks just right for a respectable 6-6 first season for Coach Jones. They have extremely difficult games against the Oregon Ducks, the Georgia Bulldogs, the Alabama Crimson Tide, the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Florida Gators that they should lose. However, Austin Peay, South Alabama and Western Kentucky should be easy wins for the Volunteers. That leaves the Vanderbilt Commodores, the Kentucky Wildcats, the Auburn Tigers and the Missouri Tigers on their schedule. Tennessee is capable of beating at least three of these teams, which will be necessary for a bowl game appearance. It will be tough with such a young and inexperienced roster, but crazier things have happened.
Jones can lead the Volunteers to their first bowl game in two seasons, which would be a tremendous feat at a program that has struggled to gain momentum despite great talent the past few years. The future is already bright for Tennessee’s football program, but a bowl game would aid their recruiting a great deal and cement Jones as a good hire for the University of Tennessee.