Many Volunteer fans are still wondering about and waiting for the next big break.
The Volunteers haven't won a championship since the 1998 National Championship season. That season put Tennessee on the map and made it a powerhouse in an already dominating Southeastern Conference; it also put everyone in college football on notice.
Since then, Tennessee has yet to back up all the former hype.
In the last three seasons, Tennessee has gone through three coaching changes, but to think that this is the norm for Tennessee football would be inaccurate.
Prior to Lane Kiffin, Tennessee had seen two coaching changes in the last 20 years. Philip Fulmer took over for Johnny Majors in 1990 during controversial and unusual circumstances.
Tennessee ended the 2010 season with a 6-7 record. The offense averaged 27 points per game, ranked 58 in the nation, while the defense allowed 25 points per game and was ranked 56. The Vols had a 16-14 loss at LSU and a near miss to an otherwise mediocre team in UAB.
The Vols got trashed by Oregon, Georgia and Alabama and lost by a respectable but close margin to Florida and South Carolina. The Vols still managed to pull four wins in a row at the end of the season, and somehow managed to become bowl eligible.
We needed someone with good character to lead us through this. Coach Dooley is the perfect fit for this team.Dennis Lindsey, long time fan and Knoxville native
Fast-forward to the upcoming season. What can Tennessee fans expect from Coach Derek Dooley's second season?
For starters, Dooley has managed to silence his critics. His calm and non-flamboyant style worried many Vol fans at the onset.
However, as the season progressed he won much support and proved to be a worthy coach. He came in and had to deal with lots of problems left over by his predecessor Lane Kiffin.
From NCAA violations to personnel issues and now recently the resignation of Athletic Director Mike Hamilton. Derek Dooley may prove to be the best hire Mike Hamilton ever made. Time will tell.
Many football analysts are finding it hard to make any accurate predictions of the Volunteers' potential.
With returning starters Tyler Bray, Tauren Poole, Justin Hunter, Malik Jackson, Prentiss Waggner and perhaps others like Janzen Jackson, Herman Lathers and Jacques Smith, it certainly seems as if they have some depth across the field.
However, inexperience, injuries and random personal issues have held them back. They are in the 90th percentile in terms of recruiting, but the talent needs to actually get, and stay, on the field. Losing high profile players like Bryce Brown to transfers has really added to the Vols' lack of chemistry.
"While most college football experts tend to think Tennessee is destined for a 6-6 or 7-5 season, I feel it will do slightly better. Yes, Tennessee has its weaknesses. But taking North Carolina off the early season portion and replacing it with Buffalo should allow Tennessee to win, at least, three of its first four games. It could possibly start 4-0. Florida is not unbeatable and is in a transition phase of its own, Jesse Smithey, a Knoxville News Sentinel Prep Extra contributor said.
The South Eastern Conference SEC East Title could be anyone's this season. Things could very well shape up in Tennessee's favor if they can pull it together.
"So if Tennessee can manufacture a hot start, that confidence should serve the young-but-talented team well once it reaches October," Smithey said.
It's not impossible for the Vols to have a surprise year. The schedule this season favors Tennessee. With five of their first six games at home, look for this team to build momentum and confidence.
Fans will be able to see right away if this is indeed an improved team. The Vols could easily be looking at 4-1 record or maybe even a 5-0 record before LSU comes to town.
It's anyone's guess as to what this team could potentially accomplish. With that said; the biggest positive this team has is in their coaching staff. Coach Dooley has proven that he can coach and can definitely get his players to be successful by figuring out their strengths and putting them in a position to excel and be successful.
Vol fans are banking on Dooley for a successful season most of all.
"We needed someone with good character to lead us through this. Coach Dooley is the perfect fit for this team," Dennis Lindsey a longtime Vol supporter and Knoxville native said.