Tennessee has had a few rough years. The once dominant SEC program is now faced with winning or facing its first below .500 season since 2008.
Last season the Volunteers finished 7-6 and were expected to do great things in the future under Lane Kiffin. When Kiffin left for the University of Southern California this summer, all of that changed. They were left without a coach and with their future looking bleak.
Tennessee enters the Music City Bowl with a record of 6-6 and will face the 7-6 North Carolina Tar Heels.
That leaves us the question, "Will Tennessee ever get back to SEC prominence?"
tennessee football volunteer
Tyler Bray is currently the starting quarterback for the Tennessee Volunteers. He earned the starting job after playing exceptionally well in the two quarterback system for a number of games, and beat out Matt Simms for the starting spot.
Bray, the 6'6", 210-pound freshman quarterback, is the future of the Volunteer program.
This season Bray has thrown for 1,537 yards for 14 touchdowns and only seven interceptions, while completing 54 percent of his passes.
Bray could be the next Peyton Manning, and will be excellent for the program in the next three seasons.
Hopefully the Volunteers have found a coach who wants to be there. They have Derek Dooley, who seems like the right man for the job.
If Dooley stays with the team, it could mean great success for the Volunteers.
Inheriting a team that many considered to be one of the worst in Volunteers history, Dooley led them to a record of 6-6 and a bowl berth.
The depth of the team will continue to grow as the team does. Right now the Volunteers are a very young team and are looking to capitalize on that in the future.
Their depth will grow and they will once again be one of the nation's elite.
It's Tennessee, that's all that needs to be said. If the Vols can win this bowl game, they will prove that they are back. Even though it is a lower-tier bowl game, it would still be a big deal for the program and its future.
It will help Tennessee recruit. Let's face it, almost everyone in the south plays football, and it will not be that hard to get high-caliber players to come to Tennessee.
Tennessee fans will need to be patient to once again find themselves atop the SEC. The SEC is the best conference in America and is loaded with talent.
It might take a few years for the Volunteers to get back on top, but they will be eventually.
Tennessee fans are still very loyal even when the program is in shambles. This loyal fanbase will help the program succeed in the future.
So fans, continue to cheer your Volunteers.
In the next five years, the Volunteers will once again be competing for a SEC title. It may be hard to see, but if you look at the young talent and great coach they have, it is hard to count out the Volunteers in the future.