Tennessee’s football team probably won’t win the national title this season.
That might sound like a negative statement.
But look at it this way: the fact that it’s up for consideration is a positive.
When is the last time we entered a season realistically discussing Tennessee’s national title hopes?
It used to be an annual discussion.
But the last 15 or so years have changed the offseason conversation.
Now, the national title talk is back.That has fans excited, rightfully so.
Saying Tennessee “probably won’t” win it all is different from saying “the Vols have no shot.”
Tennessee has a real chance to win the national championship this season. Just ask the oddsmakers.
The consensus among different sportsbooks gives the Vols the 12th best odds of winning the national title this year.
Considering Tennessee has to play Alabama and Georgia, two of the top five national title favorites, as part of an SEC schedule, Tennessee’s rank among national championship contenders is impressive.
The Vols have earned their way back into the conversation.
Winning 11 games last year, beating Alabama, blowing out LSU, and finishing with an Orange Bowl victory over Clemson created real credibility.
Tennessee also has to prove it can maintain that level of success.
The Vols have to replace several key pieces from last year’s team. You know their names by now.
And there are reasons to be skeptical.
Joe Milton III showed his improvement in the win over Clemson. But is he ready to compete at an elite level like Hendon Hooker?
Tennessee’s defense has added depth and athleticism. But will that side of the ball show more consistency this fall?
Tennessee will have a chance to beat every team on its schedule.
The Vols could also lose to 5-6 different teams.
Tennessee’s over/under of 9.5 wins shows the odds are in the Vols’ favor to finish as one of the SEC’s best teams.
But win the national title?
Tennessee probably won’t do that.
And that’s OK.
Here’s another reason why it’s fine to admit Tennessee probably won’t get it done.
Elon Musk is one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs.
Despite what your opinion of him might be, his results at Tesla and SpaceX speak for themselves.
You know what he thought about the chances of Tesla succeeding when he took over the company more than a decade ago?
“I didn’t really think Tesla would be successful,” Musk told 60 Minutes in 2014. “I thought we would most likely fail.”
That’s the CEO saying he expected his own company to fail. But it didn’t keep him from trying to succeed.
“If something’s important enough, you should try, even if the probable outcome is failure,” Musk said.
It’s hard to say exactly what Josh Heupel expects his team to do this season.
He’ll expect to win a bunch of games and compete with every team on the schedule.
If he’s being honest, Heupel probably doesn’t expect his team to win every single game. Or win the national title.
He knows what the odds are of that happening.
But Heupel also believes in trying. He’s been to the top at Oklahoma and wants to return there at Tennessee.
So he’s going to give it everything he has – and demand his players do the same thing.
Because while Tennessee probably won’t win the national title, the Vols have a chance this time.
That’s something to get excited about.