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Hook’s Take: Vols selling out football season tickets should be norm at Tennessee

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Tennessee sold out their season tickets for the second straight season. That’s news, I guess.

Is anyone surprised that the Vols’ faithful would back an action-packed team that is aggressive on both sides of the ball while it (mostly) doesn’t get in trouble off of it?

That’s why it’s time for Battered Vol Syndrome to end. I’m sure you’ve heard the acronym. If you haven’t, the syndrome began in 2001 when Tennessee lost to LSU in the SEC Championship game. Well, it’s time to set aside the Debbie Downer attitude because it’s become glaringly obvious that things are going well at Tennessee, which should be the case with the amount of money they have to spend. Simple competence in marketing sold 50,000 season tickets when guys with bad haircuts were roaming the sideline.

First, the Vols have had success over the past two decades. There’s been a couple of national championships in women’s basketball won in that time, an Elite Eight run for the men last season and a World Series run in baseball. However, there was that decade of football. Wow, that was bad, but that seems to be all that people think about when the Vols come into the conversation. With Josh Heupel’s success, isn’t it time to expect good things from the Vols, not bad?

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Let’s get back to those fans that threw down thousands of dollars or much, much more to be a part of something that everyone believes will be something special, an incredible football season in 2024 that even the guy with the bad haircut couldn’t flub up. Those fans are a big part of the reason why Dooley’s recruiting classes seemed respectable when he signed them.

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Tennessee fans mean more to its athletic department than any building, coach or player on campus. They, arguably, mean more than any fan base in the SEC given their impact and the fact that the Vols have far less in-state talent than many of their rivals.

Tennessee fans know prospects’ names and yell at them during the Vol Walk. That’s a big part of the reason why the Vols have recruited well recently, but it makes one wonder how far Tennessee fans can carry the Vols’ athletic department in recruiting. Sure, there’s NIL, but no prospect would play in an empty stadium. The money is more important than it ever was, but everyone has that. There are only a handful of fans as passionate and as loud as the massive Big Orange crowd that looms in the shadows until fall Saturdays.

Tennessee’s last recruiting class was ranked 14th in the nation and eighth in the SEC. While there’s no need for concern just yet, that’s no great feat. Tennessee coach Josh Heupel said he has his best roster since he’s been a Vol over the last four years. Well, there are still holes on both sides of the ball. No one is claiming the talent gap with the nation’s elite has been completely closed.

Tennessee has to recruit better. You know that. I know that and Heupel knows it as well. The fans? They helped build the signing classes that ended up at UT by showing their support in person and on social media. Those are the kinds of fans that will support you through thick and thin.

Perhaps it’s because I’m a bit older now, 50-years-old now, but I get pretty amazed by the amount of Tennessee fans that don’t understand that there was a 100,000 fans ready to scoop up tickets, a mighty Vol Walk and a competitive football team for most of my life. Well, other than that spectacle of stupidity that occurred in the 2010’s.

Tennessee athletic director Danny White is doing a great job, but he’s also just meeting expectations. He has the fan support, which comes with financial backing to field a fantastic athletic department and a championship football team. Kudos for doing so, but selling out football season tickets in football for two straight seasons shouldn’t be anything special. It should be the norm.

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