The SEC didn’t do the Tennessee Vols any favors with the 2020 schedule.
On Friday, it was revealed that Tennessee’s two additional opponents in 2020 will be the Auburn Tigers and the Texas A&M Aggies.
It’s not the worst-case scenario for the Vols (they avoided LSU), but it’s far from the best-case scenario.
Going into the schedule reveal, I felt like Tennessee was going to draw Ole Miss and Texas A&M/Auburn. That would be fair and logical. The Vols already play a tough SEC schedule every year (Alabama, Florida, and Georgia no matter what). Adding a likely win in Ole Miss and then a toss-up game in Texas A&M/Auburn would’ve made a lot of sense.
But that didn’t happen. And it’s not because the SEC wanted to screw over the Vols. It’s simpy because Tennessee doesn’t fit the SEC’s agenda — which is to get as many teams as possible in the College Football Playoff.
The “easy games” were saved for teams that have a shot to reach the playoff.
Our 2020 opponents are set. ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/TsbzaIx8BL
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) August 7, 2020
LSU, the defending national champs, had Missouri and Vanderbilt added to their schedule (two easy, automatic wins). Georgia, a preseason playoff contender, had Mississippi State and Arkansas added to their schedule, which, again, is two automatic wins.
Florida added Arkansas (poor Razorbacks) and Texas A&M, which isn’t as “easy” as Georgia’s new schedule, but it definitely worked out in the Gators’ favor.
As for Alabama?
Well, they added Kentucky and Missouri.
I mean, the SEC isn’t even trying to hide it at this point — they’re making the path for their “contenders” as easy as possible.
It’s a shame that this is the path the SEC is choosing to take. Coaches could lose jobs in 2020 because they get saddled with a ridiculously unfair schedule. How are Missouri and Arkansas supposed to improve on the recruiting trail if they’re getting hammered by Georgia and Alabama all season? This schedule won’t just affect 2020, it could affect programs for years to come.
Fortunately for Tennessee, both the games that were added to their schedule are “winnable”. If the Vols are able to go 3-1 against the SEC West and then somehow miraculously steal a win against either Florida or Georgia, it would throw a huge wrench into the SEC’s plans. Which would be amusing, considering the conference’s attempt to manipulate the outcome of the 2020 season.
The Vols are going to have to win some games to get on Greg Sankey’s good side. It’s not about how Tennessee runs their program or how well the athletic department gets along with the conference, it’s all about what the Vols can do for the SEC.
And right now, Tennessee isn’t viewed as “valuable” — at least not like Alabama, Georgia, and LSU.
Jeremy Pruitt has some work to do if he’s going to change that perception.
Featured image via Randy Sartin/USA TODAY