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Outback Bowl Preview
Posted: Wednesday, December 30th, 2015, 8:17 PM
by Josh
• Permalink
In the Vols best season since 2007, they return to the same bowl the went to the last time Tennessee was really Tennessee. It is fitting in a way. 2015 is the first time Tennessee has been Tennessee since 2007. It would seem things have perhaps come full circle. Now Tennessee stands on the precipice of retaking its rightful place among the elite of college football.

Over the past few weeks with all of the coaching turnover I have heard a lot of talk about Tennessee being in one of the best positions of any team in the SEC, or at least the SEC East. While I could see their argument, I still couldn't shake the fact that our head coach is a guy that thinks halftime adjustments are overrated, thinks a 14 point leads is more than enough to start playing conservative, talks about 5 hours worth of analytics going into a 4th and goal from the 1 yard line call, and also makes a vast array of head scratching statements and in game calls. But then they make the argument of "Who in the SEC would you take over Butch Jones?". At first blush there would seem to be several SEC coaches I would rather have. But with all the turnover, he actually is in the top half of returning coaches.

Nick Saban- Obviously anyone with a brain would take him over Butch.

Les Miles- I would take him over Butch because he seems to have better luck than Butch.

Hugh Freeze- He has proven himself to me to be a very good coach and a very good recruiter. He is doing what he is doing at Ole Miss. That says it all. I would take him over Butch.

Dan Mullen- He recruits as well as you can to Starkville and he is pretty damn good in game coach. I would take him over Butch.

Jim McElwain- It is rather early to tell on him but I watched him take an offensive roster that more or less amounted to a pile of dog feces and win 10 games with it, including coming back from 13 down in the 4th to beat a more talented Tennessee team with that garbage heap of an offense. It is possible he would have diminishing returns like Kevin Sumlin or Gus Malzahn but at this point I would take him over Butch.

Bret Bielema- I'm not sure what to make of him exactly. He isn't the best recruiter yet he has this smash mouth system where he beats very good teams on any given Saturday, yet he loses some head scratchers. At this point, given his penchant to lose to teams like Toledo and Texas Tech, I would have to take Butch over him.

Kevin Sumlin- At one point, Sumlin looked like the next elite coach. He won 11 games in his first year including a win over eventual National Champs Alabama. Since then they have kind of been stumbling around in upper level mediocrity. Since he can't keep even starting quarterbacks, I would take Butch over him.

Gus Malzahn- I am really shocked at how Auburn has progressed under Malzahn. I thought he was a sure fire home run when he took a team that was 3-9 the year before to the BCS Championship game. Diminishing returns since. I would take Butch over him.

Mike Stoops- Please. Butch all day.

Derek Mason- Butch all day.

Will Muschamp- He just sucks as a head coach. Butch.

Barry Odom- Who knows? Missouri has never really recruited with the big boys and it is doubtful he is as good a coach as Pinkel. Butch.

Kirby Smart- Again, who knows? Hiring Jim Cheney was a good move but we just don't know at this point. I find it hard to believe he will be any better than Mark Richt and I firmly believe Alabama's defense is a Saban creation, not Kirby Smart. Butch.

So at this point there are 5 coaches I would take over Butch Jones and 4 of them are in the West. It would be such a Tennessee luck thing if Kirby Smart ended up being an elite coach. McElwain is recruiting very well now. If Tennessee is going to plant its flag as an elite program for the next few years, IT MUST WIN THE SEC EAST IN 2016. NO EXCEPTIONS AND NO EXCUSES.

Now on to the Outback Bowl. You guys have probably more or less heard my opinion on this game from other outlets. My take is pretty mainstream this time.

I think Tennessee has too much speed for Northwestern. The Wildcats have a very good statistical defense but that was playing against the Big Ten West, which is terrible. They beat Stanford in the first game before Stanford really found themselves. But then Michigan and Iowa destroyed them. Tennessee's playmakers on offense and Northwestern's lack of playmakers will be the difference.

I do think Northwestern will play well and give the Vols a decent fight for a while but Tennessee just has too many athletes in the end.

Tennessee 31
Northwestern 17

In the College Football Playoff....

Orange Bowl

Oklahoma 37
Clemson 32

Cotton Bowl

Alabama 24
Michigan State 21

National Championship Game

Alabama 35
Oklahoma 27

It is hard to believe the season is pretty much over. Enjoy these precious few remaining bowl games. It's a long time until September. It's been a pretty disappointing year for Tennessee in my opinion considering what this season could have and should have been. A lot of people are happy with 8-4 because it's our best season in 8 years. 8-4 is okay but as Tennessee fans our goal should be championships and not to treat mediocre accomplishments as these great feats to be celebrated. I once heard Tony use the analogy of Rafiki leading Simba to the water's edge to show him who he really was. He wasn't a lowly vagabond scavenger, he was a mighty king. Someone needs to walk this entire fanbase, the players and our head coach to the edge of the water and show them who Tennessee really is. Tennessee has much more in common with Notre Dame, Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State, USC, and Oklahoma than it does Missouri, Iowa, Texas Tech, Cal, Arizona or Washington State. Tennessee has a history and tradition befitting of college football royalty. But it doesn't have the mindset. Tennessee fans, coaches, players and the UT administration need to start thinking of themselves as a regal program. I think of my beloved Volunteers as being a regal program and I will NEVER compromise that and I will NEVER apologize for it.

For those who want you can follow me on Twitter @Joshes_Blog

Have a safe and happy New Year everyone. May you all receive many blessings in 2016. Go Vols and God Bless!!!

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