Vanquished Vols

Counting the 2008 season and the first three games of 2009, Tennessee's football team has a 6-9 record to show for its last 15 games.

So, how long has it been since the Vol program was this down?

Answer: You have to go back 28 years to find a 15-game stretch of similar futility.

On the heels of a 5-7 finish in 2008, the 2009 Vols stand 1-2 heading into tonight's game with Ohio U. The combined 6-9 record is UT's worst for a 15-game stretch since it ended the 1979 season with a Bluebonnet Bowl loss to Purdue, went 5-6 in 1980, then lost two of the first three games in '81. That stint also produced a 15-game record of 6-9.

You have to go back three more years to find a worse 15-game stretch than the Big Orange's current one. John Majors' first Tennessee squad went 4-7 in 1977, then opened the '78 season with a win, two losses and a tie. That 15-game stretch produced a 5-9-1 record.

Clearly, the 2009 Vols need to get things turned around quickly. The next three games - Ohio University (tonight), Auburn (Oct. 3) and Georgia (Oct, 10) - are at home, so they have a chance to do just that.

"Definitely," junior defensive end Chris Walker says. "We have three home games before we have our bye, and we really want to get those games. We have good opponents - Ohio, Auburn and Georgia - and if we get those three going into our bye week that gives us momentum."

Here's a look at Tennessee's worst 15-game stretches of the past 30 years:

5-9-1 (4-7 record in 1977, then 1-2-1 start in 1978)

6-9-0 (5-7 record in 2008, then 1-2 start in 2009)

6-9-0 (lost 1979 finale, then 5-6 in '80, 1-2 start in '81)

7-8-0 (3-2 finish to 2004, then 4-6 start in 2005)

7-8-0 (7-2 finish to 1987, then 0-6 start in 2008)

7-7-1 (6-5-1 record in 1982, then 1-2 start in 1983)

9-6-0 (7-4 finish to 2006, then 2-2 start in 2007)

9-6-0 (4-4 finish to 2002, then 5-2 start in 2003)

9-6-0 (1-1 finish to 2001, then 8-5 record in 2002)

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