The Tennessee Vols haven’t won an SEC championship since 1998.

And they haven’t won the SEC East since 2007.

That’s not surprising, of course. The Vols have been wandering through the wilderness for the last 15-20 years. The program has hit rock bottom on more than one occasion.

Five coaching searches in less than 15 years will do that to a program.

What is surprising, however, is how well Tennessee has recruited during the roughest stretch in program history.

Rivals recently reviewed their average class rankings over the last 20 years. It won’t shock folks that Georgia has the No. 1 best average finish at 6.45, followed by LSU at 7.35, and Alabama at 8.0.

Tennessee finished just outside the top 10 at No. 11. The Vols’ average class ranking over the last 20 years is 13.4, which places Tennessee above programs like Michigan, Miami, Texas A&M, Clemson, and Oregon.

Of the teams in the top 11, the Vols are the only program that hasn’t won their conference in the last 20 years.

This should be both encouraging and depressing for Tennessee fans.

Clearly, the resources are there for the Vols to be great. They’ve had the talent and they can continue to get the talent.

But this also means that Tennessee has squandered a LOT of talent over the last 20 years.

There were plenty of years that UT had the talent to win the SEC East (2012, 2015, 2016, just to name a couple of years), but poor coaching prohibited the program from reaching its full potential.

New Vols head coach Josh Heupel has a tough road ahead, but the good news is that Tennessee is never going to be a tough place to sell.

Featured image via Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports/
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