Butch Jones: Alabama-Tennessee rivalry best in SEC


Count Butch Jones glad the Alabama-Tennessee rivalry will be a permanent fixture on future schedules.

The Times Free Press asked Jones what he thought about keeping Alabama, who has beaten Tennessee every year since 2007, on the schedule.

“Absolutely, because it’s a part of our football program and the great tradition we have here. I think the Alabama-Tennessee rivalry is one of the best rivalries in the country, and I think it’s the best rivalry in the Southeastern Conference. To be able to maintain that rivalry is something that we are very excited about.”

Tradition won with the SEC’s scheduling decision, and the Third Saturday in October was solidified to continue as an annual event. The Crimson Tide lead the series 50-38-7.

But is the Alabama-Tennessee rivalry the best the SEC has to offer?

RELATED: Like the SEC’s new schedule format? Les Miles would like a word with you

The Iron Bowl is the hottest rivalry in college football, much less just in the conference. Taking nothing away from Tennessee, its coaches or its fans, the Third Saturday in October just hasn’t been a rivalry in several years, as the Tide have won the last seven games, including a combined score of 167-39 over the last four years.

How about Florida-Georgia or Auburn-Georgia? Or what about the Egg Bowl? How does Third Saturday in October match up to those?

Glad you asked. I would put the Alabama-Tennessee rivalry would be around No. 5 or No. 6, and it would follow the Iron Bowl, The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party and the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. The Egg Bowl or the Alabama-LSU rivalry wouldn’t be far behind either.

The passion, history and tradition of the Third Saturday in October will live on, and that’s great for the SEC and college football.

What say you?

Photo Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports



You must be logged in to post a comment. Please sign in or register

  • I would pick the Iron Bowl, the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party or the Egg Bowl (they are old rivalries and have division implications) over TN-AL. It doesn’t even have a nickname!

    • “It doesn’t even have a nickname!”

      Actually, yes it does. It’s called the Third Saturday in October, despite the fact it’s not always on the third Saturday.

  • It’s at least the best rivalry involving SEC schools from the states of Tennessee & Alabama anyway…..

    • Wait..are you seriously saying that the Alabama/TN rivalry is greater than the Iron Bowl?

      • I have a lot more respect, competitively, for UT than I do Auburn, and for simple reason: Auburn, historically, has been a loss less relevant than UT. While Auburn spent years losing games and being satisfied with sneaking in a win against Alabama here and there, UT was out there grinding out wins and adding Alabama to the list. UT has more overall wins, more conference titles, and more national titles.

        Regardless of UT’s misfortune as of late, I still consider a win over UT to carry a lot more prestige than one over Auburn.

        • Well you should be happy with how Bama’s year turned out then.

        • Im a die hard bama fan, but your posts make bama fans look bad. You are a trolling idiot. harvey updyke material. There is no discussion as to what the best rivalry is. Any one with a brain knows the Iron Bowl is leaps and bounds ahead of the rest. To insinuate anything else – esp tennessee – just shows you are full of hatred and stupidity. The auburn bama series is 42-35-1. Dang close series. Alabama had the big run in the 70’s and 80’s under bear, and auburn had the run under tuberville. Trying to belittle your best rival doesnt make them look small – it makes you look small. People like you are the reason I run into so much hate for bama when I travel out of state on business. Pathetic.

  • LOL, Respectfully I think Coach Jones maybe a little mad for saying Bama/UT is the best rivalry in the SEC. Auburn/Alabama is the most bitter, hated rivalry in the country much less the SEC. Staying in the SEC after that I would go with Auburn/Georgia rivalry (who up until the last few years the entire points spread between the two from all games accumulated going back to the 19th century was less than 14 points. THAT’s a rivalry. After that the W.L.O.C.P, then Bama/TN…and I suppose you could lump the Egg Bowl in after that, but I only rate it because it’s an intrastate rivalry within the same conference. If Florida/FSU or even GA/GT were in the same conference I would rate those much higher than the Egg Bowl. No offense To Mississippi natives but a rivalry is only fun if you are playing for something other than pride.

    • “No offense To Mississippi natives but a rivalry is only fun if you are playing for something other than pride.”

      And there you hit the proverbial nail on the Bama/UT rivalry head. Auburn has two national titles to UT’s six, and 733 wins to UT’s 804. Historically, the Iron Bowl has been something for Auburn to hang their hat on when they’re not in a title hunt, while Alabama fans only really consider it a speed bump on the way to a title (be it conference or national). On the other hand, Bama and UT typically had a lot more to gain or lose when they played, and the competition reflected that, as both teams wanted to win the game on the way to something bigger, not use it as a consolation prize when they came up short.

  • id say overall its the best Alabama rival game how people forget how boring for many many years the auburn game was and how they forget Tennessee is the second to Alabama in conference championships and there games knocked each other out of a chance for national titles the iron bowl has only become interesting in the last 15 or so years auburn has never been the long term threat Tennessee has been and doesn’t have near the winning tradition of Tennessee read the history books

    • OK, so let me ask you a question. If UAT HAD to loose against someone would you prefer it to be Auburn OR Tenn?

      • Wait..how boring the game was? Since 2000 Auburn has led the series 9-5 versus Bama. Overall Alabama leads the series 42-35-1. That HARDLY seems like a boring rivalry. Unless of course you got bored watching Tuberville beat Bama on a regular and consistent basis.

        • ^And again, you prove the point: hanging your hat on Tuberville’s streak. That one streak seems to be it for Auburn fans. I literally yawned when I read that comment, as no Alabama fan I know even thinks about Tuberville anymore. He won six in a row… big deal. What good did it do him? No national titles, one conference title, and then an unceremonious bye-bye after getting shutout 36-0.

    • Agreed, I have UT/Bama over the Iron Bowl overall. The last few Iron Bowls have had some classics and in the same time frame UT has been down, but I still think the Third Saturday in October is THE rivalry for both these teams historically.

    • What does any of that have to do with how great a rivalry is? Sounds more like you are not man enough to give Auburn credit which isnt surprising. You probably get your self-esteem from the football team you cheer for anyway.

  • Wow Butch! Not even close. I’m a die hard DAWG fan but after living in Alabama for a few years I can tell you nothing comes close to the Iron Bowl. I would say the Georgia-Florida game or the Georgia-Auburn game are a close second. Tennessee has been so awful for so long that the rivalry has lost some luster. Most would assume that for Georgia fans Florida is our biggest rivalry but I honestly think the Georgia-Auburn game is one of the best games of the entire football season.

  • I love the rivalry game and all but there are definitely better rivalries in the SEC.

    • Even before Carolina joined the SEC in 1992, I loved watching the Iron Bowl every year. Great teams, great games. In my opinion, it is still the best rivalry in the SEC. I would say the Dawgs and Gators are second.

  • If Alabama is the school they want to compare records with, and they surely don’t have to be, then only one SEC rival has a .500 record or better with them. So what are they saying a rivalry is? I guess not an even match every year.

  • Rivalries are all well & good, but the cross divisional rivalries in the SEC are BS. You can say that UT-Bama is a great & historic rivalry, but it’s not General Robert Neyland playing Bear Bryant year in & year out. No one tunes in past the first quarter of the storied “Third Saturday in October” game, so why is it so important? For the sake of the conference, or to keep they unfair & cakewalk pairings we have today? LSU has to face Florida every year while Ole Miss plays Vandy? Auburn has to play UGA while MSU plays Kentucky? Add to that point that the 6-1-1 rotation means that some players will NEVER get to play some teams in the conference, and you see how the permanent opponent model was sketchy when we had 12 teams, but downright unfair now that we have 14.

  • When rating rivalries, I think you need to look at the entire history of the games, not just what has occured in the last 10 years or so. The TN/AL rivalry has a very rich and interesting history to say the least. Its also a very streaky rivalry. To date AL has one the last 7 games. Before that TN had one 9 straight and before that AL had won 13 straight. Alot of those past games were barn burners. One of the best games I have ever seen was a 5 OT game between UT/AL with the VOLS coming out with the win. Now with that being said, I think that the AL/AU (Iron Bowl) is probably the most heated and hardest hitting rivalry in the country, followed by TN/AL, FL/GA. Then maybe the Egg bowl.

  • If you go by history and a close record, then AU/UGA is the best rivalry. If you go by hatred, then AU/AL or GT/UGA, these four hate each other, well from what I hear about AU/AL they do.

  • Is it possible to change my password? If so, can someone tell me how? I don’t want the password SDS gave me

  • Even as a stone cold UGA Bulldawg…the Iron Bowl is definitely the tops in rivalry games.. Followed by either the WLOCP or as of late, the Deep Souths Oldest Rivalry: UGA-Aub. Ever since “Dirty Nick Fairley” was playing, the UGA-Aub game has taken a nasty turn…But since UGA has put the world back in order with FU, the WLOCP has once again take a step to being a true rivalry….I would put those two in a tie for second place.

  • A Texas perspective: I am fascinated at how similar the Auburn -> Bama -> Tennessee love triangle is to the A&M -> t.u. -> OU relationship was. The Longhorns treated us the same way Bama treats Auburn, and OU thought they could look down on A&M because they were better rivals with Texas even though that wasn’t always the case.

Continue scrolling for more articles.