John Adams: Non-divisional schedule went to 'Dogs

This deep into a football season, it's easy for fans to wonder what might have been. And I'm not referring only to injuries.

Sure, UT's season might have been different if it hadn't lost star wide receiver Justin Hunter to injury in the third game or if it hadn't lost quarterback Tyler Bray for half the season. But the season also might have taken a turn for the better if the Vols could have swapped non-divisional conference schedules with Georgia.

The Bulldogs are atop the East and apt to stay there. The Vols are last in the East.

The distance between them isn't measured solely by the Bulldogs' 20-12 victory at Neyland Stadium.

Two of UT's five conference losses are to No. 1 LSU and No. 4 Alabama. Two of Georgia's six conference victories came against Ole Miss and Mississippi State, who are a combined 1-10 in the SEC.

The scheduling disparity will increase today. UT plays No. 8 Arkansas, and Georgia takes on No. 24 Auburn.

Arkansas 31, Tennessee 16: At least, the Vols won't have to worry about the wild-hog package, which hastened their demise on their last Fayetteville visit. But they will have to worry about slowing down the best passing attack they have encountered this season.

Florida 24, South Carolina 20: Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier probably broke out the champagne after his alma mater hired Will Muschamp as coach. But he won't be celebrating today.

He's an offensive guru without an offense. And Florida should manage just enough points to give Muschamp a rare victory over Spurrier.

Muschamp is 1-7 against Spurrier all-time as a player at Georgia and as an assistant coach at Auburn and LSU. Spurrier's teams averaged 41.8 points in those seven victories.

Alabama 31, Mississippi State 7: Tide coach Nick Saban might want to change his offensive strategy for the rest of the season. And I'm not just talking about avoiding field goals.

Once a game is hand, Saban seldom seems interested in pouring on the points. When your team is third in the BCS standings, it's time to get interested.

My advice: Channel your inner Chip Kelly.

Louisiana Tech 26, Ole Miss 24: The Rebels had so much trouble finding a mascot last year, I don't expect them to name coach Houston Nutt's successor until next spring.

In a best-case scenario, the same folks who decided on Rebel Black Bear won't have any say-so in the search for Nutt's replacement.

Georgia 27, Auburn 24: If the Bulldogs end up playing LSU in the SEC championship game, Tigers coach Les Miles won't be known as the lucky one.

Georgia has benefitted from more than an accommodating schedule. Consider the injuries to valuable players in its own division — Hunter and Bray, South Carolina All-SEC running back Marcus Lattimore, and Florida quarterback John Brantley.

Vanderbilt 27, Kentucky 20: The Wildcats appeared headed for a special season until last week when they soundly defeated Ole Miss. Having lost their shot at an 0-8 SEC season, they're now just another bad team — though capable of pulling off a rare upset of Vanderbilt.

The Commodores are rarely upset because they are rarely favored.

LSU 45, Western Kentucky 6: Credit the Tigers with scheduling safeguards against possible letdowns.

They scheduled Northwestern State the week after Oregon, and the Hilltoppers the week after Alabama.

Top 25: Oklahoma State 52, Texas Tech 27; Oregon 41, Stanford 38; Boise State 44, TCU 27; Nebraska 27, Penn State 17; Clemson 45, Wake Forest 23; Michigan State 27, Iowa 18; Michigan 28, Illinois 20; Wisconsin 56, Minnesota 20; Southern California 41, Washington 30; Texas 34, Missouri 24; West Virginia 42, Cincinnati 35; Southern Mississippi 40, UCF 27.

Record: 135-30 (.818) overall, 88-63 (.583) against the spread.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

© 2011 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 29

10Vol85 writes:

Not that it would help us this year, but I still think only divisional games should count toward the divisional standings. The idea should be to have the best divisonal team represent the division in the championship. Why complicate it with uneven schedules? Inter-divisional games should be used only as tiebreakers.

VolzsFan writes:

Hey John, its basketball season. Who cares about football? UT football died in November 2008 and you and Hamilton killed it. Move on.

thevoice writes:

in response to 10Vol85:

Not that it would help us this year, but I still think only divisional games should count toward the divisional standings. The idea should be to have the best divisonal team represent the division in the championship. Why complicate it with uneven schedules? Inter-divisional games should be used only as tiebreakers.

Ditto. As much as I (used to) enjoy the UT-Bama rivalry, especially when the Vols were winning, having a constant opposing-division foe is very unfair. We have Bama. What about those schools that have UK, Vandy, the Miss. schools? Need a complete revamping.

cloudodust writes:

UGA also has the most tenured HC in the East. If he failed, or fails, to win the East this year over any past years, the Dawg faithful will really be howling...Go War-Tigers and help perpetuate chaos between the hedges.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to 02champs#209256:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It became infected in 1998. Symptoms started to appear in December of 2001. It's been on life support since Wyoming.

BigOrangeSmoker writes:

in response to 02champs#209256:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

i agree adams wouldnt know a reporter is it slapped him in the face,it sure makes KNS look bad and whats makes it even worse is when you call and complain about it,they think he does a good job.If there was another site that followed the vols close id drop KNS all together.Thanks Mr.Ward for being the reporter we need

CoverOrange writes:

in response to 10Vol85:

Not that it would help us this year, but I still think only divisional games should count toward the divisional standings. The idea should be to have the best divisonal team represent the division in the championship. Why complicate it with uneven schedules? Inter-divisional games should be used only as tiebreakers.

Wouldn't that make the SEC basically two conferences of 6 teams?

Next year they should do away with divisions and let the two teams with the best records go to the SECCG. Imagine a rematch of LSU and Alabama instead of a LSU beatdown of Georgia. Designate 3 rival games per school and play the other 5 against the other 10 on alternating years. Meaning each school plays every other school every two years.

lomas98 writes:

in response to 10Vol85:

Not that it would help us this year, but I still think only divisional games should count toward the divisional standings. The idea should be to have the best divisonal team represent the division in the championship. Why complicate it with uneven schedules? Inter-divisional games should be used only as tiebreakers.

That would put tn at a disadvantage by continuously losing to Florida.

TeeBall writes:

in response to Lane_Kiffins_Daddy_Wears_Diapers:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Since 1992, the year Arkansas and South Carolina were incorporated into SEC play, Georgia has played the Mississippi teams 20 times while Tennessee has played them 13 times. I'm not sure what year the SEC implemented the "tradional rivals game" (or whatever it's called) but clearly Georgia has always had an easier road to the SEC championship than Tennessee over the years. But this is nothing new, Vince Dooley Duck (because he ducked good competition) always scheduled weak teams as much as possible both in conference and out.

Sir_Spanky writes:

in response to 02champs#209256:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

1999.

DalTexVol writes:

in response to TeeBall:

Since 1992, the year Arkansas and South Carolina were incorporated into SEC play, Georgia has played the Mississippi teams 20 times while Tennessee has played them 13 times. I'm not sure what year the SEC implemented the "tradional rivals game" (or whatever it's called) but clearly Georgia has always had an easier road to the SEC championship than Tennessee over the years. But this is nothing new, Vince Dooley Duck (because he ducked good competition) always scheduled weak teams as much as possible both in conference and out.

Before the expansion to 12 teams and the divisional alignments, Tennessee had more of a rivalry with Ole Miss. The Vols played the Rebels more than Georgia, Florida or Auburn. I think UT may have even played Miss. State more than Florida or Georgia.

DalTexVol writes:

in response to 10Vol85:

Not that it would help us this year, but I still think only divisional games should count toward the divisional standings. The idea should be to have the best divisonal team represent the division in the championship. Why complicate it with uneven schedules? Inter-divisional games should be used only as tiebreakers.

I like your suggestion. That would be a lot more fair for all teams involved.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

Hey John, its basketball season. Who cares about football? UT football died in November 2008 and you and Hamilton killed it. Move on.

It's hard to get fired up about football right now;Over the last few years Ive become more of a BBall fan;although Pearls team last year had me pulling my hair out..Lot's of talk about Bray and Hunter being out but with them healthy I only see 1 maybe 2 more wins.To be honest Bray wasn't that great against GA or FLA and it wasn't just because of Hunters injury..Bray will eventually be all SEC but he has work to do;and hopefully it will under a new OC

RemembertheAlamo writes:

in response to Lane_Kiffins_Daddy_Wears_Diapers:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Before 2002 Tennessee (SEC) only rotated one school from the west and had two permanent teams, with ours being Arkansas and Bama. In 2002 we started with one permanet which was Bama and rotated two. From 2002 throught 2010 we played Ole Miss and/or Miss St 8 times. So with the exception of 2006 we played either Ole Miss or Miss State every year from 2002 to 2010. In the same time frame Georgia played Ole Miss in 2002, Miss State in 2005, Miss State & Ole Miss in 2006, Ole Miss in 2007, and Miss State in 2010 which is a total of 6 times. I don't know where you are getting your info, but it is probably another Troll trying to stir up trouble. It is Great to be a Tennessee Vol! (side note...to Mr. MerlOT, this is Post # 2)

BluezVol writes:

If we could play Miss State, Ole Miss, Vandy or KY in early September instead of Fla (and move Fla to Nov) that would be a great thing. I'm tired of basically having the season over in early Sept and hoping someone beats Fla to even the score.

FWBVol writes:

I think John is making some valid points with this column. Yes, we are struggling, but much of that has to do with the way the schedule fell. We are the only team in the East that has played the top three teams from the West. Give us Ole Miss and Miss. State instead of Alabama and LSU (not that I would even give up the annual Alabama game), and we probably have two conference wins at this time.

murrayvol writes:

Note to editor: Actually Steve Spurrier is celebrating today as Will Muschamp moved to 1-8 (as player, asst., and HC) vs the OBC.

I hear Shreveport is lovely this time of year.

CCLC writes:

Goodness that is what we call poor mouthin' in the South. Georgia plays 17 Freshman and Soph. 4 freshman scored last week. Face it our youngsters are just way better than yours. And you thought Dooley was gonna take Atlanta. 4 years and done I say.

givehim6 writes:

If UT and UGA had swapped fortunes this year, UT got there schedule and GA ours, UGA was the one with the injures, would Richt be the one once agian one the hot seat while Dooley was beeing toasted with a team in the run for the SEC east? I think UGA should play Bama and LSU back to back for 2012 and 2013.

Prostar writes:

Here's hoping Georgia makes it to Atlanta and gets literally crushed by LSU. I'm no fan of Les Miles and LSU but I want to see Georgia get humiliated in the SECCG.

givehim6 writes:

in response to BluezVol:

If we could play Miss State, Ole Miss, Vandy or KY in early September instead of Fla (and move Fla to Nov) that would be a great thing. I'm tired of basically having the season over in early Sept and hoping someone beats Fla to even the score.

I have thought the same thing.

jawga writes:

in response to givehim6:

If UT and UGA had swapped fortunes this year, UT got there schedule and GA ours, UGA was the one with the injures, would Richt be the one once agian one the hot seat while Dooley was beeing toasted with a team in the run for the SEC east? I think UGA should play Bama and LSU back to back for 2012 and 2013.

Don't think Richt is on the hot seat any longer after that beat-down of AUB tonight. Madhatter will his hands full in the BSC Champ game once the Dawgs finish off the Mildcats next Sat.

jawga writes:

I meant SEC Champ game. BSC Champ game is a season away for the Dawgs.

CCLC writes:

in response to givehim6:

If UT and UGA had swapped fortunes this year, UT got there schedule and GA ours, UGA was the one with the injures, would Richt be the one once agian one the hot seat while Dooley was beeing toasted with a team in the run for the SEC east? I think UGA should play Bama and LSU back to back for 2012 and 2013.

Maybe Georgia could have bought out a game to insure a victory instead of swapping Louisville for Boise State. but anyway Georiga just spanked last years National Championships... and it wasn't close. We will be selling tickets to the SECC game. Want one?
Just sayin'

LaneBrains writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

Hey John, its basketball season. Who cares about football? UT football died in November 2008 and you and Hamilton killed it. Move on.

First of all J. Adams had nothing to do with the hiring of the best football coaching staff on the planet! Give all the credit to Mike H., proving that he was way ahead of his time!

Vol fans will remember 2008-2009 as the golden era!

CLK, Monte and Ed

jdcdjc writes:

We will not and do not deserve to make it to a bowl game this year, we cannot get by Vanderbilt, they will take us by two touchdowns. Our record will be 4-8. Just can't wait for next year.

volcraze writes:

Will someone please explain to me why the Vols only play for the first half. The games would be a little closer if they played in the second half also. This has been a tough year. I sure hope we can put a little something together to beat UK and Vandy.

volvann writes:

in response to volcraze:

Will someone please explain to me why the Vols only play for the first half. The games would be a little closer if they played in the second half also. This has been a tough year. I sure hope we can put a little something together to beat UK and Vandy.

Easy:
Redshirts left from Fulmers last class(rs senior): 7
Fulmer/Kiffin Class(senior): 7
Kiffen Class (juniors): 7
Dooley/Kiffin Class (soph): 24
Dooley (fresh): 22 some were red-shirted
Injury count of current starters (4 defense, 3 offense).
With depth only with Freshman and Soph's playing as backups with no game experience there ya go.

Lakedawg writes:

So you had to play Alabama and LSU....big deal !
Georgia had to play both in the same year very
recently, and now they've rotated off of our
schedule. Same with Arkansas. Your major regular
opponent from the West is Alabama. Ours is
Auburn. Our major regular Western rival won
the National Championship last year, the ONLY
year in the last 6 years that Georgia didn't
beat them. We're also 3-1 in our last 4 vs
Alabama. How is YOUR recent record vs those
two teams ? Just face up to the fact that your
team isn't very good....3 losing seasons in the
last 6 years, and another one on the way after
Vanderbilt wins at Neyland this year. Georgia
isn't staying down, in fact we're building up
nicely and have a ton of young talent that is
showing itself. Florida isn't going to stay
down either. Get used to where you are,
Tennessee - you'll be there for a while.

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