For the last 15-20 years, fans of the Tennessee Vols have been hoping to relive the legendary 1998 season that saw UT finish 13-0 and win the BCS championship.
Unfortunately for Vols fans, Tennessee hasn’t been able to replicate the success of their incredible run in 1998.
No one knows if the Vols will ever win another national championship. That’s impossible to predict. But what we do know is that if Tennessee reaches the top of the college football world again, it won’t be via the same methods that worked in 1998.
That’s why it might be time to retire the phrase “Feels like 98”.
Appreciate the 1998 season for what it was. But it’s never going to happen again — at least not in the way it happened in 1998.
That’s something that recently-hired athletic director Danny White fully understands. And that’s why Vols fans should embrace the words he said to ESPN in a recent interview.
“We’re not going to win our next national title doing the same things we were doing in 1998,” said White to ESPN. “We need to be creating our new reality and innovating what our future looks like. And that’s an unwritten story we need to go write.”
White is absolutely correct. He wants the Vols to win championships. That’s his goal. But he knows Tennessee needs to embrace a “new reality” to make those championships a reality.
That’s why White hired Josh Heupel — a coach that isn’t stuck in the past. Heupel is innovative and constantly looking to stay ahead of the rest of the college football. Just because an idea worked last year, doesn’t mean Heupel is married to the idea for the rest of his career. He’s a coach that’s always evolving.
And Heupel is confident that Tennessee can return to relevance, partially because of the “harmony” between White and the rest of the program.
“If we build the foundation the right way, we have a chance to build something really special on top of that,” said Heupel to ESPN. “Having harmony and clear vision from the top-down, being in sync, we have that. That’s why I believe that we’ll get Tennessee football back to where it belongs.”
Four coaches have tried to “bring the Vols back” since Phillip Fulmer was forced out in late 2008. And all four have failed.
Will Heupel be the one who finally succeeds?
Maybe. Maybe not.
But at least Tennessee is leaving the past in the past and moving forward with what works now in college football and not what worked 20 years ago.
Featured image via Tennessee Athletic Communications