If you’re a fan or analyst who enjoys downplaying the Tennessee Vols as a threat to win the SEC, you better enjoy the 2020 season.

Because after 2020, it’s going to be an annual three-way race (between Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee) at the top of the SEC East.

You know, the way it used to be before thing wents south for the Vols in 2008.

(Who would’ve thought Tennessee’s downward slide would last this long?)

The Vols were in a bad place in 2017 when Jeremy Pruitt was hired to lead the program.

No one knew what to expect from the program after a 4-8 season and a disastrous coaching search that included a botched hire and an athletic director being fired.

Could Tennessee ever return to its past glory?

Or was the program doomed forever?

There was cautious optimism when Pruitt was hired as the program’s new head coach. He was a well respected defensive coordinator, but he had never been a head coach at any level. There was some concern over whether or not he could actually lead a college program.

Nearly three years later, it’s clear that Pruitt knows what he’s doing.

The Vols went 5-7 in Pruitt’s first year, which included a win on the road against Auburn. In Pruitt’s second year, Tennessee finished 8-5 after a rough start to the season.

Tennessee Vols

Pruitt obviously has the program trending in the right direction. And in 2020, the Vols should take another step forward — even if the final record doesn’t indicate a huge improvement (UT has a tough schedule this season).

Tennessee won’t be a favorite to beat Alabama, Florida, Georgia, or Oklahoma (though maybe they spring an upset in one of those games).

But this is the final season that those matchups won’t be considered “toss-up” games.

Moving forward, the Vols will have the talent and the depth to not just compete with those programs, but to beat those programs.

Tennessee is going to be a consistent threat to win the SEC after the 2020 season.

When Pruitt said this was going to be the decade of the Vols, it wasn’t just lip service. He truly believes it.

And soon, the results on the field will show it.

Featured image via USA Today Sports

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