Recruiting is Butch Jones' main order of business now that he has assembled a coaching staff. But at some point, he might get around to scheduling.
There's nothing he can do about what the SEC throws at you one Saturday after another. The non-conference schedule is a different matter.
It has basically assured the Vols of an extra loss per season for the next three years. Next season, they will play at Oregon in September. Then come games against Oklahoma in 2014 and 2015.
How tempting it must be for a new coach to suggest buyouts.
The Vols could replace Oregon with some low-level FBS team or maybe even a program that just took up organized football in the last decade. That way, UT could improve its won-lost record and cash in with another home game.
The backlash wouldn't be worth it, though, especially since the Vols already have employed that strategy.
The move proved to be both embarrassing and unproductive. Fans were offended that their Vols would run away from a basketball school; the team finished 5-7 anyway.
I couldn't imagine current UT athletic director Dave Hart doing that. He has said he wants Tennessee to play an attractive non-conference opponent each season. And having been involved with programs at Florida State and Alabama, he's more conditioned to fight than flight.
Dropping a prominent opponent also would run counter to the image Jones seeks to project. He wants to build champions, not avoid them.
You still might wonder whether the Vols will keep their date with Oregon. So might Oregon coach Chip Kelly.
In the fall of 2011, Kelly told reporters UT was buying out of the game. Not so, UT said.
"Good," Kelly must have thought. In fact, he probably wished the game could have been moved up to 2012. The Ducks rank No. 4 in total offense; the Vols, No. 109 in defense.
The disparity shouldn't be quite as great in September unless former UT defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri sneaks into the coaching booth, commandeers a headset and starts barking out more bad strategy for old time's sake.
Since an average SEC opponent (see Vanderbilt for details) could manage 40 points on the Vols in 2012, the possibility of the Ducks scoring 60 on them next fall isn't farfetched.
But there are worse outcomes than that. Would giving up 60 points to Oregon be worse than losing to Kentucky in November of 2011? Or losing to Arkansas 49-7 the same month? Or buying out of the game
with the big, bad Tar Heels?
Moreover, projections for Tennessee will be so dire against Oregon, that just making an occasional tackle will be worthy of commendation. And if the Vols can prevent Oregon from surpassing the 62 points Florida scored against them in 1995, a record-setting defeat will be avoided.
Playing Oregon would put your image in harm's way. But buying out of the game would be more damaging.
I can just hear South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier saying, "You can't spell buyout without a 'u' and a 't.' "