Tennessee drew even more praise from ESPN on Monday, landing at No. 16 in the Worldwide Leader’s Future Power Rankings (Insider access needed to read full article).
The FPR is a ranking system that utilizes a panel of ESPN college football analysts who vote on five categories: 1. Coaching 2. Current Talent 3. Recruiting 4. Title Path and 5. Program Foundation to predict the success of programs for the next three seasons.
The Vols made their initial appearance in the Top 25 nationally, coming in sixth in the SEC behind Alabama (No. 2), Auburn (No. 4), LSU (No. 5), Georgia (No. 8) and Texas A&M (13). Teams are scored from 1-10 in each of the five categories, which are weighted differently, to come up with a final score.
Tennessee scored the highest (8.9) in recruiting, while coaching and title path were the lowest scores (6.9 each) for the Vols. ESPN’s Tom Luginbill discussed the success that Butch Jones has had getting talent on campus.
“[Jones’] process and blueprint are second to none,” said Luginbill. “He has a plan and knows how to implement it. Now he has the resources from an administrative standpoint to execute the plan. He’s been successful everywhere he’s been. Kids want a plan and they want structure, and Butch Jones provides both. Tennessee’s facilities are now second to none. From a football operations standpoint, they have the infrastructure needed to achieve and maintain greatness long term.”
ESPN’s Mark Schlabach discussed UT’s difficult path to a title and the challenges the Vols have swimming in the dangerous waters that are the SEC.
“I want to see the Volunteers close games and beat some of the SEC’s upper-echelon teams,” Schlabach said. “We know the Vols are good enough to beat Kentucky and Vanderbilt, and they might have South Carolina’s number, but they have to figure out a way to beat Alabama, Georgia or Missouri to show me that they’ve really headed in the right direction. We’ve heard all about their recruiting successes under Butch Jones the past three seasons, but it’s time to start seeing some real results on the field.”
In an unrelated article on ESPN also posted Monday, its College Football Nation Blog picked Tennessee as the SEC Program on the Rise.
“It might be more reasonable to expect another season of steady growth in Year 3 under Jones, but not a trip to Atlanta in early December,” wrote David Ching. “That spot in the SEC championship game is coming, though. Even if it’s not this season, Jones will have the Vols there before long. He and his staff have made too much progress in a relatively short period of time to expect anything less.”