Is UT overhyped?

Every year the Tennessee Vols are ranked among the preseason favorites for the Southeastern Conference football title. Every year since 1998, however, the Big Orange has proved unable to scale that wall.

Some Tennessee fans, growing a bit restless, vent their frustration in public forums. They call radio talk shows to complain. They write angry letters to the editor. Sometimes they even send emails to analysts who work for nationally respected websites.

One such Vol fan recently sent one such email to one such analyst, Pete Fiutak of Fiutak enjoyed the question so much he used it in a column called "Ask CFN - Is Tennessee overhyped?" The fan's question and Fiutak's reply are reprinted below (for entertainment purposes only):

I've got a couple of questions surrounding one pivotal one….Will/Can this be Tennessee's year? Every year Tennessee gets hyped and hyped…yet fall short time and time again. How is it they are consistently overrated by the media? Do you (the media) think they are that good every year, but just don't live up to their potential? Could this be a product of bad coaching?...if so, when do you think Fulmer will be dismissed? Many thanks in advance. – KW

A: I don't mean to pick on you, KW, but I'm going to use this question to get something off my chest to SEC fans: you can't have it both ways. You can't be all high and mighty and gloat over and over again about how great the league is, how it's the best in the nation, and how it's so tough to get through, and then wonder why your team isn't winning the national championship every year. Live up to potential? Isn't the SEC supposed to be brutally tough every single week? If it's so nasty, then getting to a New Year's Day bowl on a consistent basis should be good enough, right?

Tennessee had one lousy year in 2005, won nine games last season and ten in both 2003 and 2004. It's not overhyping a program that wins as much as Tennessee does just because it's not in the national title game every season. Is LSU the product of bad coaching since it hasn't won the SEC title for a few years? If Florida doesn't repeat as SEC champs, is it not living up to its potential? You're right in wanting Tennessee to be a national title-caliber powerhouse, but it's not like it's getting blown out by Sun Belt teams.

To answer your other question, Tennessee can be tremendous, but it's probably not going to win at Cal to start off the year without the firepower in place to hang around in a shootout. That'll likely kill your national title dreams, but Georgia and Florida have enough issues to make an SEC championship a realistic goal.

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