When you think of blue bloods in college football, teams like Alabama, Ohio State, USC, Texas, Michigan, and Oklahoma immediately spring to mind. And the numbers and history prove that Tennessee should be in that conversation as well.
The all-time AP Top 25 was updated after the end of the 2018 college football season, and the Vols were ranked inside the top 10 of the all-time rankings. The AP Poll has been around since 1936, and according to data originally compiled by Charles Woodroof, former SEC assistant director of media relations, the Vols are the No. 9 all-time school in college football.
Per SEC Country, the rankings were calculated as such: “A first-place vote is worth 25 points, second 24 points, and all the way down to one point for No. 25, although the majority of years there were fewer than 25 teams listed.” The points are calculated from the final AP Poll results from each season, not the preseason or mid-season polls.
From 1936 to 1961, only 20 teams made the final ballot, and from 1962 to 1967 it only had 10 teams. The poll expanded back to 20 teams from 1968 to 1988, then it grew to 25 teams in 1989 and remains there to this day.
With that in mind, Tennessee has done enough in their football history to be ranked inside the top 10 of the all-time rankings.
Here is the top 10 with their overall scores noted beside the team names:
- Oklahoma – 890.5
- Alabama – 888
- Ohio State – 881
- Michigan – 801
- Notre Dame – 783.5
- USC – 672
- Nebraska – 638
- Texas – 626
- Tennessee – 560
- Penn State – 558
There’s a good chance that Penn State will pass Tennessee after this upcoming season, but Florida State, who comes in at No. 11, is far enough behind both schools with a score of 533.5 that Tennessee should be able to remain in the top 10 even if they don’t finish this season or next inside the top 25.
Opposing fans will try to argue that Tennessee isn’t a blue blood program because they’ve fallen on hard times. They’ll try to argue against them being a blue blood because they only have one national title in the last 50 years. But the all-time AP Poll shows that the Vols have been consistently good at a level which most schools haven’t been able to achieve over the last eight decades. And that’s even with the program dipping to historic lows over the last decade.
Since 1936, the Vols have finished inside the top 20 of the AP Poll 40 times, inside the top 10 of the poll 23 times, finished No. 2 four times, and finished atop the poll twice. Tennessee is 10th all-time in most wins in college football history and has the third-most SEC titles in conference history with 13.
Tennessee is a blue blood program, even with their poor performances over the last 10 years. And the numbers and history back that up.