The Tennessee Vols almost certainly won’t leave Neyland Stadium on Saturday night with a win after their matchup against the Georgia Bulldogs.
And no one in their right mind should expect them to.
Georgia and Tennessee are two programs in two completely different places. Georgia spent the last decade on the cusp of being great, before moving on from Mark Richt and hiring Kirby Smart to lead an already established program.
Tennessee, on the other hand, spent the last decade on the cusp of disaster. And they hired a first time head coach to essentially build the program from scratch.
It’s going take a while before the Vols can compete with the Bulldogs again.
But while no one is expecting the Volunteers to beat Georgia on Saturday night, it’s extremely important that Jeremy Pruitt’s young squad shows fans something positive.
Tennessee can’t afford an embarrassing loss to Georgia. A loss is a loss, sure. But there’s a big difference in losing by 35 and losing by 10 or 13.
It’s especially important when it comes to recruiting. And right now, recruiting has to be the Vols’ main focus.
Perhaps the biggest thing that helped Butch Jones recruit well during his early tenure at Tennessee were the Vols’ two close losses to Georgia in 2013 and 2014. Those close losses signaled to recruits that UT was on the brink of being good again.
A “close” loss to Georgia (meaning the Vols don’t get blown out) would show recruits that with the right players, and some time, Pruitt can compete with anyone in the country.
Another blowout loss, however, and recruits will start to wonder if Tennessee will ever show progress under Pruitt.
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) October 5, 2019
The star of Tennessee’s 2020 recruiting is undoubtedly four-star quarterback Harrison Bailey. Without Bailey, the Vols’ 2020 class will fall apart.
For now, Bailey is still committed to Tennessee. But he recently told 247Sports that he needs to see some more wins from UT. And he also mentioned he might be taking some visits to other schools later this fall. That has to be concerning for Vol fans to hear.
If Tennessee doesn’t show some progress, they run the risk of losing Bailey and possibly other commits.
That’s why it’s of the utmost importance that UT doesn’t lay a complete egg on Saturday night.
A loss is a loss, but all losses aren’t created equal when it comes to recruiting.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports