The Vols’ 2017 season is already off to a disappointing start. But if ESPN’s Football Power Index is any indication of how the season will play out, Vol fans won’t be any less disappointed by the end of the regular season.
We’ve written about the FPI before, and last season ESPN’s projection system loved the Vols. The FPI predicted the Vols to win 11 of their 12 regular season games prior to the start of the 2016 season. That ultimately didn’t happen, however. Then the FPI projected Tennessee to go 9-3 this season with losses to Florida, Alabama, and LSU.
But now with the Vols already sitting at 3-2, those projections have changed.
ESPN defines their FPI as “a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season” according to their website. ESPN also adds that their “projected results are based on 10,000 simulations of the rest of the season using FPI, results to date, and the remaining schedule.”
With that in mind, here are the chances the FPI gives the Vols of winning their remaining seven games on the schedule this season:
South Carolina: 48.2%
Southern Miss: 83.7%
Those projections have the Vols winning just three of their remaining seven games, which would put Tennessee at 6-6 to finish the year. The only games the FPI has Tennessee winning are Southern Miss, Missouri, and Vanderbilt.
The FPI has the Vols losing a close contest to South Carolina this weekend and even has them losing to Kentucky, something Tennessee has only done once in the last three decades.
A 6-6 finish would be the Vols’ worst regular season record since they went 6-6 in 2014 under Butch Jones. And according to these predictions, the Vols would finish the 2017 season with just two SEC wins. Tennessee hasn’t won less than three SEC games in a season since 2013, Butch Jones’ first year.
If Butch Jones wants to keep his job as Tennessee’s head football coach, he needs to do everything he can to make sure these projections don’t come true. Because the last Tennessee coach who lost to Kentucky ultimately lost his job as well.