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Tennessee Is Back

“A program with the resources, facilities and fan support of Tennessee has never stayed down forever.”

I said it so much over the last few years I honestly wasn’t sure if I still genuinely believed it or if I had just heard myself say it enough that it was engrained in my mind at this point. There were plenty of times very recently where it seemed the University of Tennessee would, however, be the first.

Twenty-one months ago, Tennessee fired Jeremy Pruitt amidst an NCAA investigation and hired Josh Heupel to be its fifth head coach since firing Philip Fulmer in 2008. More than 30 players — including several of the best players on the Vols’ roster — left the program. It wasn’t an unreasonable take to all but leave the Tennessee football program for dead.

And yet, less than two years later, the Vols are officially back.

I never really let myself think about what it would feel like. I didn’t even know if this day would ever come, so I tried not to daydream about being amongst the elite in college football. This was a pipedream.

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Vols fans of a certain age could tell you stories, but that’s all it ever was. We hadn’t seen it — and honestly, I was pretty sick of hearing about how cool things used to be.

Until now.

Tennessee is one of the two or three best football teams in the country. There's a non-zero chance it's the best. In Heupel's second season, he's taken down Florida for just the second time since 2004 and Alabama for the first time since 2006. The Vols are back at the forefront of college football.

Thompson-Boling Arena has been packed to the gills the last few years for UT basketball. You couldn't get a ticket to a Vols baseball game last season. Tennessee fans would pack the building for water polo if we were kicking ass at it. Vols fans have been dying for the day football would get back to that point and it seems like we just might finally be there.

I'm so happy for my Big Orange brothers and sisters who have waited way too long for this. I could list all the games and moments when it seemed like Tennessee football might actually be dead forever, but there are far too many to even remember, let alone write down. Those make today that much sweeter, though.

Make no mistake, there are still huge hurdles for Tennessee to clear this season to reach its goals — and those goals are now pretty lofty. But as things stand on October 16, 2022, the Vols are back.