ESPN’s utter disrespect for football in Tennessee is nothing new. That’s because network voters changed the standard for the Heisman the year Peyton Manning was ready for it. Over two decades later, the network still does everything it can to disrespect Rocky Top.
This time it is based on the future of programs. Conventional wisdom among most pundits is that the future of the Vols at UT is bright under Josh Heupel. However, the Vols were still excluded from college football’s future top-25 performance rankings by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg.
Rittenberg appeared to base this on fundamental metrics, particularly coaching staffs and recent “trajectory on the field,” implying recent success on the field that seems to imply more success in the future. The success of the transfer portal, ZERO opportunities and recruitment are all secondary factors.
With all of that, but without listing those methods, Tennessee football somehow didn’t crack the list. Meanwhile, the Kentucky Wildcats and Florida Gators both got in there, at No. 25 and No. 22, respectively. How does that work?
By the article’s own account, Kentucky’s 2022 future quarterback rankings, 2022 future offense rankings, and 2021 future team rankings were all unranked. Only her future defense ranking for 2022 was listed as she finished 18th.
We can’t see the future rankings of each of these individual assets, but it’s pretty certain that the Vols in 2022 are the top 25 in future QB and Offensive rankings. As a result, there’s no point in omitting them here while dressing up Kentucky.
There are clearly more NIL opportunities for Tennessee football, the better recruit grade produced mixed results and depended on the duty you were on and the Vols had a lot more success in the transfer portal losing fewer people and adding more including higher touted people . That all has to count.
Somehow, however, they failed to find love in those top 25 rankings. If staff stability was such an important factor, then it doesn’t make sense to have Florida in front of you either. After all, the Vols had a better record than Florida last year, they had a higher recruit class in all services, and they had more net success in Portal
Add in the fact that Florida has a new head coach in Billy Napier and the only reason you could come up with for them is that they beat the Vols last year. Well, if head-to-head counts, shouldn’t that work in UT’s favor against Kentucky?
All of this shows that the method used to measure these teams is patently inconsistent, meaning it is based solely on a bias towards Tennessee football. Nothing else is new when it comes to ESPN, but this one was just plain embarrassing. There is no consistent method that would put both Kentucky and Florida ahead of the Vols.