The USA Today Coaches' Poll is here, and for the first time since 2008, you'll find our shade of orange in its preseason release:
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There's an interesting spread of SEC teams in this thing, with Alabama doing their usual and leading the way at number three. After the Tide you have four SEC teams ranked 7th-15th, then another five from 20th-27th, with Mississippi State and Texas A&M also receiving votes. That top tier with Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU, and Ole Miss has the most recruiting stars, but I'm particularly interested in who can break out of that second tier of Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi State, and Texas A&M. There aren't enough wins to go around for ten SEC teams to finish the year in the Top 25 (or 27). But in good news for the Vols, the four teams not appearing in the preseason Top 27 are all in the SEC East.
Showing up in the preseason poll isn't a definitive sign of anything but hype. But hype has been welcomed with open arms in Knoxville for the last seven months. And with your calendar preparing to hit August and the team ready to open fall camp on Tuesday, it's not about to slow down anytime soon.