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Has Tennessee had the most difficult four years in all of college football?

The "what else can go wrong?" expression.  We know it well.
The "what else can go wrong?" expression. We know it well.

You know we don't like to dwell on the negative here at RTT, but we bring this up today as a launching point for moving forward: just how bad has it been for Tennessee since 2008? If the Vols are going to rise in 2012, will we come up from a place unlike any other in college football in the last four years?

Fans tend to take things to the extremes: we believe Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback to ever play, and we believe no team could've scored enough points to win against the 1998 Tennessee defense. Our best days are better than anyone else's...and likewise, our worst days are the bottom of the pit of despair.

So how bad has it been for Tennessee, really? When you survey all the landscape of college football, then go through the list of things that have happened to us since Labor Day in Pasadena four years ago...has any program in America has a more difficult four years than Tennessee?

We posed the question to Wes Rucker and Clay Travis, and are interested to hear your thoughts as well:

Wes Rucker: That's a very good but very tough question. What Tennessee is going through certainly isn't unprecedented - Alabama, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Penn State and several others have gone through similarly frustrating periods - but the past four years have certainly been trying for UT and its fans. When you think about last season's outgoing seniors, and the fact that they lost more games than they won in their entire careers, that's staggering. I think off-the-field situations at other places - namely Penn State - supersede Tennessee's on-field issues, but things have been a lesser kind of terrible for the Vols. But terrible is still terrible, and the Tennessee standard is still the Tennessee standard, so the recent past has been all kinds of frustrating.

Clay Travis: This is not true -- all of Tennessee's issues have been football related, for the most part. Which is bad, but it's not Penn State or Miami or North Carolina bad. Now if you want to argue that the University of Tennessee program as a whole, including the Pearl fiasco, the Fulmer firing, Kiffin bailing, Dooley imploding, and the awful Pat Summitt story, which is by far the worst of all, then I'd buy in. The Fulmer Curse is alive and well.

Note: Our complete roundtable with Wes and Clay can be found in our Rocky Top Tennessee 2012 magazine, available for pre-order soon...