When looking at an object, a painter often needs to see different perspectives to get the whole picture and accurately portray it. In the same sense a writer needs to take a look and give an approach from all angles to properly convey his point and support it with factual detail.
Here I want to begin to take a look at the 2007 Alabama football program and the 2010 Tennessee football program. I want to pick apart the similarities, and then give an assessment of what this means for the college football landscape.
To lead off with, both of these teams were young, 68 percent of Alabama's team was either a freshmen, redshirt freshmen, or a sophomore, and 58 of those players hadn't even taken a snap in Bryant-Denny.
Tennessee regards this same depth as they start over half of their most recent freshmen class, and a majority of those players are playing key roles on the team. And it's only Week Three of the season.
The coaching factor also plays a prominent role in the comparison as Nick Saban is referred to by many as a "Saban Disciple" with his coaching philosophy. Dooley has agreed with the reference as well and has always given high regards to Nick and his team.
Both have worked their way up the coaching ladder, and both have the demeanor to lead an SEC team as seen by Dooley's time working with Saban in LSU as a recruiting coordinator.
I want to now look at the schedules for both teams and see how the Vols need to finish this season as well as how they've compared so far.
Alabama faced the following schedule:
|Sat 09/01/2007||Western Caro.||52 - 6||W|
|Sat 09/08/2007||@ Vanderbilt||24 - 10||W|
|Sat 09/15/2007||Arkansas||41 - 38||W|
|Sat 09/22/2007||Georgia||23 - 26||L OT|
|Sat 09/29/2007||@ Florida St.
||14 - 21||L|
|Sat 10/06/2007||Houston||30 - 24||W|
|Sat 10/13/2007||@ Mississippi||27 - 24||W|
|Sat 10/20/2007||Tennessee||41 - 17||W|
|Sat 11/03/2007||LSU||34 - 41||L|
|Sat 11/10/2007||@ Mississippi St.||12 - 17||L|
|Sat 11/17/2007||LA.-Monroe||14 - 21||L|
|Sat 11/24/2007||@ Auburn||10 - 17||L|
|Sun 12/30/2007||@ Colorado
||30 - 24||W|
Where as UT faces this schedule for 2010:
|Sat 10/02/2010||@ LSU|
|Sat 10/09/2010||@ Georgia
|Sat 10/30/2010||@ South Carolina
|Sat 11/06/2010||@ Memphis|
|Sat 11/13/2010||Ole Miss
|Sat 11/20/2010||@ Vanderbilt|
|December Bowl||Bowl Game (Possible)|
Looking at these schedules there are comparisons in Tennessee's 2010 schedule as Alabama, Oregon, Florida, LSU, and South Carolina are all ranked opponents the Vols will or have faced this season.
In 2007, Alabama faced LSU, who won the National Championship that season, Florida State, Arkansas, Georgia, and Tennessee.
These schedules are eerily similar with Tennessee getting a slighter nod on the difficulty side as they face one more possible ranked team (Georgia) than 'Bama did.
Does this mean that the Tennessee Volunteers are destined to win an SEC East Championship next season? Not by any stretch. Will they follow that up with a National Championship in 2012 as Saban's Crimson Tide did? Honestly that's a big statement to make, and Tennessee has a long way to go until they reach that point.
However, what I am saying is that Tennessee is on the right path, and with a good direction this team can reach the prominence it once knew in the 1990's.
One last stat that I'd like to mention is the fact that Alabama's record from 2002-2006, during the Mike Shula era was 36-27 with very inconsistent seasons ranging from 10-2 to 4-9.
Tennessee's last five years before Coach Dooley arrived in Knoxville was 36-27 as well. Their records too ranged from 10-4 to 5-7.
There are many similarities between these two programs and the state they were in. We don't know if Tennessee will follow in Alabama's return to greatness, but one thing we do know is that these are too eerily similar programs, and it should be interesting to watch the growth of this team in Knoxville.