There are currently five traditional rivalries that Tennessee Football fans would want to keep. Three are for current reasons: The Florida Gators, Georgia Bulldogs, Alabama Crimson Tide.
On top of that, Vol fans would want to keep the Kentucky Wildcats and Vanderbilt Commodores for a combination of traditionalist and easiness. They managed to keep all five in their 2024 eight-game SEC slate.
Meanwhile, Tennessee Football visits the Oklahoma Sooners, but it was clear every team would face OU or the Texas Longhorns, and the Vols were set to face them in 2024 anyway before the “non-conference” game at the time had to be canceled. As a result, that isn’t a big deal.
So what’s the rest of UT’s schedule? Well, they get to face the Mississippi State Bulldogs at home and Arkansas Razorbacks on the road. There’s absolutely no way Vol fans could ask for a better draw.
Sure, Alabama and Georgia are the two best programs in the SEC right now. The Vols get Bama at home and UGA on the road. However, they also get the two worst programs in the SEC in Vanderbilt and Mississippi State, and Vandy on the road is basically a home game.
Arkansas is a program on the decline with Sam Pittman, and K.J. Jefferson will be gone in 2024. Florida is also at home, meanwhile, and continues to be a program in trouble under Billy Napier.
Simply put, Tennessee Football gets to keep all the rivals that fans care about and has a pretty easy road otherwise. Add in the fact that two of the rivals, Vandy and Kentucky, are among the most desirable teams for anybody to play, and they got a great draw.
By the way, OU could be a program in trouble with questions about Brent Venables as a head coach. Take into account what’s expected of these programs long-term, and 6-2 should be the minimum for Tennessee Football.
Avoiding LSU was a huge deal, as was avoiding the Texas Longhorns given the fact that Arch Manning will likely take over in Steve Sarkisian’s system that year. The Auburn Tigers and Ole Miss Rebels are likely to be pretty solid by then too, and UT avoided both.
As a result, Tennessee Football fans honestly may have gotten the best draw of anybody in the SEC with its schedule. Nobody on the Vols’ level got an easier draw for sure, and they kept their rivalries. UT fans should love that.