Just like at SEC Media Days, Sporting News believes the Vols will finish behind Georgia and Florida in the SEC East this year.
Sporting News released their division predictions, biggest games, sleeper teams, and Heisman hopefuls for the SEC. And according to their projections, the Vols will finish third in the SEC East while Georgia wins the division and Florida finishes second.
Although Sporting News picked the Bulldogs to win the East, they used Tennessee’s 2016 season as a little jab (and a warning) at the end of their explanation as to why they chose Georgia.
“We’re buying the hype with a team that returns Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to go with sophomore quarterback Jacob Eason,” the article states. “The defense also returns 10 starters. This is the best possible setup for second-year coach Kirby Smart.
“We know we said the same thing about Tennessee last year.”
They also predict that whomever starts at quarterback for Florida will be the X-factor in the East, and they believe Kentucky is the sleeper team despite picking them to finish fifth in the division.
And even though Butch Jones has been a popular hot seat pick throughout this offseason, Sporting News doesn’t believe he has the hottest seat in the SEC. Their pick was Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin. “This will rotate again among SEC coaches not named Nick Saban,” said the article, “but Sumlin is up first. When your AD is calling you out at the spring meetings, that’s a clear sign that 8-5 won’t do for the Aggies.”
Alabama is the unsurprising pick to win the whole SEC, and they landed seven players on the Sporting News All-SEC team. The Vols ended up with none.