CBS released an article yesterday which ranked the SEC Football jobs 1-14. Alabama was obviously first, with LSU trailing in second. Tom Fornelli had Tennessee landing back in 6th, behind Auburn (5), Florida (4) and Georgia (3).
His rationale behind his rankings is largely based on location and recruiting. He pins that against Tennessee, which is why Florida, Auburn and Georgia got the nod over the Vols.
Here’s his full quote.
There are valid arguments for having Tennessee ranked No. 5 here. First of all, Tennessee is in the SEC East, which is an easier place to dwell than the SEC West right now. Of course, you still have to play Alabama every season, and things are cyclical, so you can't rely on the East being "easier" forever. Another advantage is that Tennessee is the flagship school within the state. It has a huge fan base and a passionate one at that. Vols football is the most popular sport in the state, and I don't see the Tennessee Titans, Nashville Predators or anybody else toppling it anytime soon. Where problems arise is in the area of recruiting. Unlike so many of its SEC counterparts, Tennessee isn't located in a fertile recruiting ground. There's talent within the state, sure, but not to the level we see in the states to the south.
Take this article into consideration here from last season. Tennessee was ranked as the 11th best state in terms of blue-chip prospects. That’s not bad at all and I’d argue that arrow is pointing up, even more now since that article was published.
However, Florida and Georgia are inside the top four while Alabama ranks 7th overall. That’s Fornelli’s rationale here, which makes plenty of sense.
You could argue that Tennessee is a better gig than Auburn simply because the Tigers have to play second fiddle to Alabama. Tennessee is the flagship school of their state, which to me, gives them the upper-hand over Auburn, but I’m not going to sweat it too much.
To me, you can throw a blanket over Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Auburn and Texas A&M. All of those schools have the facilities and recruiting grounds to be top flight programs — Nick Saban is just ruining everything for everybody right now.
Where would you rank Tennessee on this list?