National Media Seems Confused About Vols’ 2017 Strength of Schedule

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    Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI

    Most of the national media has been claiming Tennessee’s upcoming 2017 football schedule is one of the tougher schedules in the SEC. From road trips to face Florida and Alabama to hosting Georgia and LSU and even a neutral site game against Georgia Tech, the Vols have plenty of tests on their 2017 schedule.

    Aaron Torres of Fox Sports had Butch Jones on his list of coaches on the hot seat who could be done in by their team’s tough schedule, and John Crist of Saturday Down South ranked the Vols’ 2017 schedule as the toughest in the SEC East. But another national sports writer disagrees with these two assessments.

    Tom Fornelli, who has recently also stated Butch Jones has the hottest seat in college football, released a list ranking the strength of schedule for every SEC school for the 2017 season. And according to Fornelli, the Vols have one of the easiest schedules in the conference.

    Fornelli believes the Vols have the third-easiest schedule in the SEC behind only Missouri and Arkansas. “Playing an option team is never easy,” Fornelli writes, “but Tennessee has all offseason to prepare for Georgia Tech in the opener. After that, the rest of the nonconference slate is Indiana State, UMass and Southern Miss.

    “The Vols do get a bit unlucky in conference play, however, as they have to play both Alabama and LSU from the West. That’s not going to be fun, nor will hitting the road to take on Florida. Still, the rest of the home schedule should be very manageable.”

    The Vols have road trips to Florida, Alabama, Kentucky, and Missouri and host the likes of Georgia, South Carolina, LSU, and Vanderbilt among others. Fornelli claims Vanderbilt has the toughest schedule in the entire SEC, but the Commodores’ schedule isn’t that much different than Tennessee’s.

    Vanderbilt goes on the road to MTSU to start the season, and they host Kansas State for their two toughest non-conference games. The Commodores go on the road to Florida (like the Vols), South Carolina, and to Tennessee. Vanderbilt also hosts Georgia like Tennessee does, and they also get to host Alabama rather than going on the road. Vanderbilt goes on the road to face Ole Miss as well.

    Regardless of how the national media feels about Tennessee’s schedule, the Vols will have several challenges on their way to competing for an SEC East title this season. Playing an SEC schedule is never easy regardless of which division a team is in, so the Vols can’t assume anything this season.

    Nathanael Rutherford
    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.