A lot of optimism is flowing around Knoxville these days with the hires that AD Mike Hamilton has made for the football team.
Whether you like Lane Kiffin and Co. or not, you must admit they are putting forth the effort so far to build a once-proud Tennessee tradition back from its shambles.
Don't get me wrong; I am not bashing Fulmer, nor will I ever. What that man put into the University of Tennessee can not be expressed in words. Just two years ago, he had the Vols back into the SEC championship game and only lost by 7 to the eventual national champions, LSU.
With an offense that supposedly takes two years to get going, the Volunteer faithful decided they had enough. Understandably so, with two out of four years missing a bowl game. Tennessee fans were not accustomed to such nonsense.
So Phil had to go (tipping my hat), along with all his staff. In comes Kiffin and Co. and people just can't believe all the big names they have gotten on one coaching staff.
So here is a game-by-game breakdown of how IMHO the Volunteers will do against their schedule if they play to their upmost ability.
Game played in Knoxville. Dont expect much of the picture above, as Tennessee will win big. 30-7.
Payback time in Knoxville. Tennessee let UCLA come back on them in Pasadena last year. They still almost won the game in overtime on a missed field goal. Tennessee defense shows Craft for what he really is. Tennessee pulls away late, 33-17.
Tennessee all heart, not enough talent to keep up Tebow and special teams will determine this one. Tied 13-13 at the half with Florida going ahead late to stay 27-16.
The Vols pull off a closer game than expected. In a game where Tennessee's players heads are still in Gainesville, they wake up late to seal a 10-point victory. 20-10.
If the game were in Auburn, I would probably go the other way here. However, it is not. Tennessee crowd and defense prevail, 17-13.
With the Vols still high on the Auburn win, Georgia gets upset in Knoxville. Tennessee in a romp, 40-6.
Showing their inexperience, the Vols fall in Tuscaloosa. Costly turnovers put Bama ahead in an ugly game. Bama, 21-13.
David Reaves (Spurrier's former QB coach and recruiting coordinator) gets reassured he made the right decision to come to Tennessee, with the Vols scoring early and often. Tennessee, 33-10.
Tennessee, still high on the South Carolina win, gets a wakeup call in Knoxville. Memphis scores 21 on costly turnovers. Sad day in Knoxville here. Memphis, 34-23.
Ed Orgeron's recruits and Houston Nutt's coaching prove to be too much in an Oxford slugfest. Ole Miss gets a field goal in the final seconds, 12-10.
Vanderbilt, trying to get into a bowl, gets shut out by an angry Volunteer defense. Eric Berry wreaks havoc here with three interceptions. Tennessee 45-0.
In a battle for third place in the east, defense doesn't show up for either team. Kentucky turns the ball over once late in the fourth as Tennessee sits on the ball. Vols, 38-33.
Going 8-4, 5-3 in conference in Lane Kiffin's first full season, the Volunteers earn a spot to the Outback Bowl against an underachieving Ohio State team. Tennessee is excited. Ohio State doesn't want to be there. Vols rout Ohio State, 32-16.