Wes Rucker from Go Vols Xtra
It is remarkable to believe that the last time Tennessee played in a BCS bowl came in the 1999 season, a 31-21 loss to #3 Nebraska. The last BCS win came the season before with a 23-16 victory over #2 Florida State in the first ever BCS Championship game (surely this new method of determining a national champion was flawless, right?). The first SEC school to win a BCS title, Tennessee has seen SEC rivals win six BCS titles while the Vols have barely had a sniff of the BCS bowl games.
After a bizarre couple of years which has seen the football and basketball programs hit by NCAA violations the entire athletics program is looking to turn a new leaf. Tennessee saw Lane Kiffin laugh his way through the program en route to take over at USC and men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl fell mightily from his greatness, leading to his termination this year. A search for a new athletics director is underway but the focus must somehow fall back on football, at least that is what Derek Dooley is trying to do.
Wes Rucker, senior writer for Go Vols Xtra (part of the growing 247 Sports network) and co-host of the Swain and Rucker Show on ESPN Radio Knoxville, joined the podcast today to provide a look at the state of the program and try to figure out just how long it will be until Tennessee starts playing at a level Tennessee used to be accustomed to when the Vols were one of the top two programs in the mighty SEC.
What we know is that Tennessee may be heading in the right direction but the 2011 schedule is not the kindest. Road games at Florida, Alabama, and Arkansas along with home games against LSU, Georgia and South Carolina will make it a tall order to rack up some wins. If the goal is reaching a bowl game they will have to win at least one of those games and make sure they do not slip up the rest of the way. As Rucker suggests, and probably much to the delight of you Big East fans, the home game against Cincinnati should not be taken for granted. I happen to believe. As you know, I fully expect Cincinnati to be one of the most improved teams in the Big East this season and the BearCats will be looking to get off on the right foot this season. A win in SEC territory would do wonders for their season, as well as the Big East’s place in the conference wars this season.
Have a listen to the podcast below, then make sure you are subscribed in iTunes, and following the show on Get Glue! Follow Rucker on Twitter (follow me too). And don’t forget, this podcast can be heard at anytime on Stitcher Radio!
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