A New Era Begins Now: Heupel Heads to Rocky Top, Follows Familiar Face Home

A little less than a week ago, Danny White, the former University of Central Florida athletic director, was hired as the University of Tennessee’s athletic director to replace former AD Phillip Fulmer, just a few days removed from that announcement, Tennessee has found its 27th head coach. 

Josh Heupel, the former University of Oklahoma quarterback who led the Sooners to the national title, and was as an assistant coach and head coach captured conference crowns at Oklahoma and UCF, has been named the Tennessee Volunteers next head coach. 

He will replace Jeremy Pruitt, the former Volunteer head man who was fired on earlier this month and was accompanied by the retiring Fulmer. Heupel brings a pedigree of fast-paced and exciting teams. He was named the 2018 First Year Coach of the Year by the Football Writers’ Association of America, and was a finalist for the Associated Press National Coach of the Year Award, the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award, and the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award that same season. 

Heupel stated, “I am thrilled to be coming to Tennessee,” “I understand that Volunteer fans are hungry for a return to the top that they so richly deserve, and it is my goal and commitment to bring a championship back to Rocky Top.” 

During his time in Orlando, Florida at UCF, Heupel posted a 28-8 record and a stellar 20-5 mark in conference play. He will be formally introduced as the head coach during a press conference which will be live-streamed today at 12:05 p.m. ET on UtSports.com and SEC Network.

Welcome home, Coach Josh Heupel, we can’t wait to see what the future holds on Rocky Top.

(Picture: Tennessee Athletics Twitter)

Really Rocky on Rocky Top: With Pruitt, Fulmer out at Tennessee, Where Does Tennessee Turn Now

Hello, darkness and uncertainty, the two best friends of a Tennessee football fan. It wasn’t all that long ago that we met last, in fact it’s been just over three years.

Not a lot has changed since the last time the Tennessee football program and their fans were met with darkness, but two things have changed.

In addition to searching for their next head coach to replace the vacancy left by the firing of Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee Athletic Director, Phillip Fulmer has also decided to finally walk away from the game after more than two decades in association with the program.

Phillip Fulmer played on the Tennessee football team from 1968-1971, and then returned to the program in 1992 and served as the program’s head coach from 1992 until his termination in 2008.

In 2017, Fulmer returned to Rocky Top as the athletic director, in which position he served until January 18, 2021, when he was fired alongside Pruitt amid an NCAA recruiting violation investigation which could possibly land the Volunteers on probation.

As of now, Kevin Steele will serve as interim head coach until a permanent move is made. Whether the permanent head coach is Steele or not, whoever it may be isn’t exactly stepping into a gold mine. In reality, it could be said that they would be stepping into the exact opposite of a gold mine, whatever that may be. Where does this university and its football program turn now?

Only time will tell.

Go Vols,

Braxton Parmer.

(Picture: RockyTopTalk)

Keeping Composure: Tennessee Basketball Guard Josiah Jordan-James Picking Up Pieces after Losing Everything in Saturday Blaze


Josiah Jordan-James, a sophomore guard on the Tennessee men’s basketball team, played Wednesday evening’s game vs. Arkansas with a heavy heart and stirring emotions. The Charleston, South Carolina native lost all of his possessions back home, when flames engulfed his home, according to Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes. 

Following Tennessee’s 79-74 win over the Arkansas Razorbacks (9-2, 1-2) on Wednesday evening, Barnes stated that Josiah’s mother called him and informed him of the heartbreaking news on Saturday after the Volunteers (8-1, 2-1) suffered their first loss of the season on their home court against Alabama (8-3, 3-0). 

James took the news from four days earlier, and turned it into motivation and inspiration to perform at his highest level against Eric Musselman’s Hogs from Fayetteville, Arkansas, when he shared the team-lead in points scored with teammate Victor Bailey, Jr., at 17 points. Coach Barnes stated that Jordan-James has “handled it well.” He also commended Josiah as a “mature young man.” He went on to say “His mother told us to watch him because he will hold things in.” 

He also led the Volunteers in minutes played with 36 minutes on the court, on 6 of 12 shooting (50%), 2 of 6 from beyond the arc, pulling down nine rebounds, and one assist. Together, Tennessee shot 27 of 60 from the field (45%) and 5 of 18 from deep (27.8%). The Volunteers hit 20 of 26 from the charity stripe (76.9%) and grabbed a total of 28 rebounds, six of which were offensive rebounds. 

Tennessee ended Wednesday’s victory with 13 assists, 10 steals, and nine blocks, while forcing the Hogs into 20 turnovers compared the Volunteers’ five. Arkansas committed 22 fouls while Tennessee committed 12 fouls. The Volunteers’ largest lead of the night was eight and the Razorbacks’ largest lead was seven. 

The Volunteers will now turn their focus toward the Texas A&M Aggies, whom they will face Saturday at 1 p.m. CT. This game will serve as the first of two straight road trips for the Tennessee men’s basketball program.

(Picture: 247 Sports).

Let’s Go Bowling: Tennessee Football Receives Bowl Invite to be in Liberty Bowl

It’s a year of firsts in 2020. That means Tennessee (3-7) can go bowling.

On Sunday night, it was announced that the Volunteers and Jeremy Pruitt would travel to Memphis, Tennessee to tangle with Neal Brown’s West Virginia Mountaineers (5-4) in the 62nd AutoZone Liberty Bowl at Liberty Bowl Stadium.

It was a regular season filled with struggle and strife for the Tennessee Volunteers, who won two games in a row to begin the shortened slate, but then followed it up by losing six straight games before throttling a winless Vanderbilt team on December 12th, 42-17, then dropping a 34-13 decision to 5th-ranked Texas A&M on Saturday.

For the Mountaineers of West Virginia, they began their season on September 12 defeating Eastern Kentucky 56-10, followed by a loss to then-15th-ranked 27-13, the Mountaineers then defeated Baylor 27-21, and Kansas 37-10, before falling to Texas Tech 34-27, on the road.

They then defeated then-16th-ranked Kansas State, 37-10 on homecoming before dropping a 17-13 decision to then-22nd-ranked Texas on the road, they followed that up by running past the Horned Frogs of TCU 246, and ended the regular season by being thrashed by then-9th-ranked Iowa State 42-6.

The 62nd AutoZone Liberty Bowl is scheduled for Thursday, December 31, 2020 at 3pm CT on ESPN.

Can the Volunteers end 2020 on a high note or will Neal Brown and the West Virginia Mountaineers have different things in mind?

Find out December 31st at 3pm on ESPN.

(Photo: AutoZone Liberty Bowl Twitter)
(Photo: Tennessee Football Twitter)

Volunteers Look to Take Recent Frustrations out on Pittman’s Pesky Hogs

Before the football season began on September 26, these two programs seemed like they would be at two totally different ends of the totem pole.

Jeremy Pruitt’s Tennessee Volunteers (2-3) entered the season ranked in the Top 25, while first-year head coach Sam Pittman’s Arkansas Razorbacks (2-3) seemed to have Kirby Smart’s then-fourth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs on the proverbial ropes before the Dawgs came storming back with a late surge to take a 37-10 win over the Hogs in Fayetteville.

While both teams enter with identical 2-3 records, it seems that this game is a must-win for the Volunteers if they hope to get things back on track as we head toward the home stretch of the 2020 season.

Arkansas, who wasn’t expected to be very competitive at all this season has shocked the nation. The Hogs were projected to be the second-worst Southeastern Conference team in front of only Vanderbilt before the season began.

For Tennessee, things have taken a completely different path. The Volunteers were expected to be among the best in the Southeastern Conference in 2020 during the preseason, but that’s not the case on Rocky Top.

This year marks the 13th-straight season that Tennessee is not in contention for a conference title. Since leading Georgia 21-17 at halftime on October 10, Pruitt’s Volunteers have been outscored 109-24.

Following an open date on October 31, the Tennessee Volunteers are set to begin the second-half of their 2020 season with a trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to visit the pesky Razorbacks.

This will be Tennessee’s first trip to Fayetteville since 2011, as the Volunteers and Hogs are scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. CT kick on the SEC Network, with Tom Hart (play-by-play), Jordan Rodgers (analyst), and Cole Cubelic (sideline) on the call.

The game will be available on the airwaves in the Smokey Mountain region on the Vol Network WIVK 107.7 FM and WNML-FM 99.1 with Bob Kesling (play-by-play), Tim Priest and Brent Hubbs (analysts), and Kasey Funderburg (sideline) on the call.

Saturday’s contest in Fayetteville will mark the 19th overall meeting between the Razorbacks and Volunteers, and the sixth meeting in Fayetteville. Tennessee leads the all-time series 13-5.

In Knoxville, the Volunteers lead the series 6-2, in Fayetteville, Tennessee leads 3-2, in Little Rock, the Volunteers lead 3-0, and in bowl games, Tennessee leads 2-0.

The Volunteers all-time record on November 7 is (15-3), they are on a 14-game winning streak on this date.

In the last five games on this date, Tennessee is 5-0: 1981: 24-21 W over Wichita State, 1987: 41-10 W over Louisville, 1998: 37-13 W over UAB, 2009: 56-28 W over Memphis, and 2015: 27-24 over South Carolina.

Source: Tennessee Football Twitter.

Tennessee to Face Tough Mid-season Test in Hard-nosed, Second-ranked Alabama in Knoxville

It’s no secret that the Tennessee-Alabama rivalry has fallen off of a proverbial cliff in the last 13 years, from 2007 to last year, but that doesn’t take away from the downright hatred and bad blood that continues to flow rapidly through the veins of these two programs, and fans of the two respective programs alike.

Traditionally, the rivalry game has been played on the third Saturday in October. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic influenced schedules, the game was pushed back a week.

The Tennessee Volunteers and the second-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide are set to renew their rivalry at 2:30 p.m. CT Saturday in Neyland Stadium on CBS. Gameday seating will be at approximately 25 percent of the venue’s full capacity of 102,455.

Saturday’s game will be available over the airwaves of the Smokey Mountains on the Vol Network with Bob Kesling (play-by-play), Tim Priest and Brent Hubbs (analysts), and Kasey Funderburg (sideline) on the call.

The CBS broadcast will be brought to viewers by Brad Nessler (play-by-play), Gary Danielson (analyst), and Jamie Erdahl (sideline) on the call.

Recent series history has been in favor of Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide, as Alabama has won 13 meetings in a row (2007-2019). Tennessee has won nine of its last 12 games dating back to last season. Saturday marks the halfway point for the Volunteers’ season as Tennessee is off on October 31.

Tennessee punt returners are averaging 20.0 yards per punt return this season, which ranks third in the country and second in the Southeastern Conference.

Kick returner Velus Jones Jr., is averaging 25.0 yards per kick return this season, which ranks second among teams in the Southeastern Conference.

Tennessee’s defense has recorded two touchdowns thus far in 2020, which ranks third in the country and third in the Southeastern Conference.

20 Volunteers have made their Tennessee debut in 2020, including 17 true freshmen.

Inside the Series:

Saturday’s meeting between Alabama and Tennessee will mark the 103rd all-time meeting between the bitter rivals.

Alabama leads the series 57-38-7. The Crimson Tide lead the series in Knoxville, 26-20-1, Tuscaloosa, 10-4, and Birmingham 14-21-6.

Tennessee’s largest margin of victory in the series is 27 points (41-14, 1969 and 1995 respectively). Both of those games were played in Birmingham.

The Volunteers’ largest margin of defeat in the series is 51, which occurred in 1906, when the Tide beat Tennessee 51-0 in Birmingham.

Tennessee’s all-time record in games played on October 24 is 12-4-2, they are currently on a two game losing streak.

The last time a game was played on October 24 came in 2015 (19-14 L). The others came in 2009 (12-10 L to Alabama), 1998 (35-18 W over Alabama), 1987 (29-15 W over Georgia Tech), and 1981 (38-9 W over Memphis State).

Tennessee and Alabama have faced each other four times on October 24. The Vols own a 2-2 record again the Tide on that date, outscoring them 76-75.

Source: Tennessee Football Twitter.

Pruitt Leads No. 14/12 Tennessee to Athens for Top 15 Showdown with No. 3 Georgia

For the first time since their October 7, 2006, No. 12 Tennessee and No. 3 Georgia will square off against each other as top 15 teams at 2:30 p.m. CT Saturday in Athens. The then-No. 13 Vols bested the then-No. 10 Bulldogs, 51-33, in Sanford Stadium that day.

Saturday’s game will be available for viewing on CBS with Brad Nessler (play-by-play), Gary Danielson (analyst), and Jamie Erdahl (sideline) on the call.

Across the airwaves in Tennessee, Vol fans can listen to the game on their radios by tuning their radios to the Vol Network, available on WIVK-FM 107.7 and WNML-FM 99.1, where Bob Kesling (play-by-play), Tim Priest (analyst), Brent Hubbs (analyst), and Kasey Funderburg (sideline) will describe the action.

Tennessee is making its first appearance on CBS since November 17, 2018. This will mark the 50th all-time meeting between the Volunteers and Bulldogs, with Georgia holding a slim 24-23-2 edge in the series to this point. Tennessee will be seeking their first 3-0 overall start since 2016 and their first 3-0 start in conference play since 1998.

The Volunteers carry an eight-game winning streak and a six-game SEC win streak into Week 3. That mark is currently the second-longest in the country, the longest in the Southeastern Conference, and tied for the longest in the Power Five. It’s Tennessee’s second-longest winning streak since the 1998 national championship season. The Volunteers trail only Air Force (9) for the longest win streak in the nation.

The Volunteers have won nine of their last 10 games, and three straight SEC road games. The six-game conference winning streak is Tennessee’s longest since winning six in a row from October 31, 2015 to October 1, 2016.

Will Jeremy Pruitt and the Volunteers of Tennessee extend their winning streak to nine games on Saturday or will Kirby Smart and his Bulldogs have other plans?

Find out a 2:30 p.m. CT on CBS.

Source: Tennessee Football Twitter.

No. 16/21-ranked Vols to Kick 2020 off in Palmetto State at South Carolina

Its been a long offseason, but the wait is almost over. Head coach Jeremy Pruitt and his 16th-ranked Volunteers will kickoff the 2020 campaign with the first of its 10-game-conference-only schedule on Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium, in Columbia, South Carolina.

Kickoff for the lid-lifter the Volunteers and Gamecocks is slated for 6:30 p.m. CT on the SEC Network, with Taylor Zarzour (play-by-play), Matt Stinchcomb (analyst), and Alyssa Lang (sideline) on the call.

Across the airwaves of Knoxville, Tennessee, Volunteer fans will the familiar “Voice of the Volunteers”, Bob Kesling (play-by-play) on the call, with Tim Priest and Brent Hubbs providing commentary, and Kasey Funderburg will provide updates to Bob, Tim, and Brent, from the sidelines.

September 26 will be the latest opener for Tennessee on the calendar since opening the 1962 campaign on September 29 against Auburn in Birmingham, at historic Legion Field.

The Vols carry a six-game overall win streak and a four-game conference win streak into Williams-Brice on Saturday, which is currently the fifth-longest “active” streak in the country, the third-longest among Power 5 schools, and the longest among SEC East foes.

Tennessee only trails LSU (16), Air Force (8), Notre Dame (8), and Florida-Atlantic for the longest win streak in the nation.

This will mark the 39th all-time meeting between Tennessee and South Carolina on the gridiron, Tennessee leads the all-time series (26-10-2). The series dates back to 1903.

The Volunteers hold a (9-4-2) record in games played on September 26, with last one coming September 26, 2015, a 28-27 loss to Florida.

The last games on September 26 came in: 1992 – (40-0 W vs Cincinnati), 1998 – (42-7 W vs. Houston), 2005 – (30-27 overtime W at #4 LSU), 2009 – (34-23 W vs. Ohio) and the aforementioned 2015 loss to Florida in Gainesville.

Tennessee ranks 10th in the NCAA in all-time wins with 846, trailing only Michigan (962), Ohio State (924), Texas (917), Alabama (916), Notre Dame (910), Oklahoma (909), Nebraska (902), Penn State (898), and USC (847).

Will Tennessee extend their current win streak to seven on Saturday in Columbia against Will Muschamp’s Gamecocks?

Find out at 6:30 p.m. CT on the SEC Network.

Source: UTSports.com.

Ain’t No Smoggy Smoke on Rocky Top: Jeremy Pruitt guides Vols to remarkable turnaround, Vols Bowl Eligible for First Time Since 2016

It wasn’t probable or pretty but Tennessee (6-5) is headed to a bowl for the first time in three seasons.

Early on in the season, if you would’ve told me Tennessee would be bowl eligible on November 23rd, I would’ve had my doubts but hoped for the best.

After starting their season with a 1-4 mark, following losses to Georgia State, BYU, Florida and Georgia with their lone win being against a sub-par Chattanooga team, the future was looking bleak for the Volunteers.

Since then, Tennessee has gone 5-1 in their last six games, with their only loss coming at the hands of top-ranked Alabama and their wins coming over Mississippi State, South Carolina, the week after the Gamecocks shocked the nation by defeating #3 Georgia, UAB, Kentucky, and Missouri.

The Volunteers are on a four-game winning streak and they have a chance to finish the regular-season at (7-5) with a win vs. Vanderbilt next week.

Rocky Top you’ll always be home sweet home to me.

Picture: Tennessee Football Twitter.

No. 20 Tennessee Basketball Welcomes Alabama State to Rocky Top for mid-week tilt

For the first time in 2019-20, the Tennessee Volunteers (3-0) have cracked the AP Top 25. But the Volunteers, ranked 20th in the nation, can’t rest on their laurels as an upset-minded Alabama State (0-3) will enter Thompson-Boling Arena with nothing to lose.

The Hornets, led by head coach Lewis Jackson, might be winless on the season thus far, but they would love nothing more than to go on the road and knock off a top-25 team.

ASU comes into tonight’s 6pm CT game having scored an average of 56.7 points per game, compared to Tennessee’s 78.3 points per game.

On the defensive side the Hornets are yielding an average of 79.3 points per game while the Volunteers are giving up 62.7 points per game.

Can Tennessee continue their undefeated streak, or will Alabama State earn their first win of the season?

Picture: Tennessee Basketball Twitter.