Vols fans know from experience that Tennessee’s football schedule is usually front-loaded. Tennessee plays their two main SEC East rivals, Florida and Georgia, in the first half of the season, and their other main SEC rival, Alabama, falls right in the middle of the season.
The last month of Tennessee’s schedule is usually filled with teams Vol fans don’t get as excited about, such as South Carolina, Missouri, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and a weak non-conference opponent. And it’s because of that scheduling that one national broadcaster says Tennessee is hard to put on television late in the year.
In an interview with Saturday Down South on their podcast, Gary Danielson, a longtime color commentator for CBS Sports, said the Vols are hard to have on T.V. for the last month of the season. And he thinks Tennessee and the SEC need to change how the Vols’ schedule plays out.
“I’m an outsider to this league,” Danielson said. “One of the reasons I came (to CBS) is because I wanted to be an outsider and view things from the outside-in. I always was confused why Tennessee and Florida play in September and Florida and Florida State play in the last game of the year.
“I thought it should be swapped. Let Florida and Florida State play early and get it out of the way and let Tennessee and Florida play at the end of the year when it really matters.”
The Vols and Gators have almost always played in September ever since the SEC split into divisions in 1992. The two teams have played outside of September only twice in the division era of the SEC. The first time was in 2001 when they played in the last regular season game of the year because of the events of 9/11, and the second came in 2014 when they played on October 4th.
Tennessee is on national television frequently early on in the season. But because of their front-loaded schedule, the Vols struggle for a national spotlight down the stretch.
“It’s hard to put Tennessee on (television), and they’re an icon team, in the last month of the season because they don’t play anybody,” Danielson stated. “And if they’re good, and no offense to anybody, but do we really want to put Tennessee-Vandy or Tennessee-Kentucky on? It just doesn’t work for us.”
This season, the Vols’ final month of the season does include at least one potential marquee match-up, however. Tennessee hosts LSU on November 18th in the second-to-last regular season game of the year for the Vols. But this year’s contest against the Tigers is a rarity for Tennessee.
The last time the Vols had a “premier match-up” in the month of November was in 2013 when they hosted Auburn. Tennessee was still rebuilding at that time, however, and they were subsequently blown out 55-23 by an Auburn team that would appear in the National Championship Game.