That is the last time Tennessee won 10 games. That’s also the first year Nick Saban was the head coach at Alabama. The Vols have sputtered mostly since then, with just 5 winning seasons.

Still, Tennessee fans are optimistic about this upcoming season after going 7-6 in 2021. Paul Finebaum weighed in on the expectations of Vol fans recently. The “Voice of the SEC” addressed this topic on “McElroy and Cubelic in the Morning” on WJOX (via On3 Sports):

“Greg, I think Tennessee fans have quickly gone right back to where they were many, many years ago,” said Finebaum. “Reminds me a little bit of Alabama fans about 15 or 20 years ago, that no matter how bad things were, they are still among the most optimistic fans in the country. Because they feel like they belong at the cool kids table. Probably because of their record, despite everything. I think that they really believe, even if that (eight or less wins) happens, they still have faith in this program right now. Nobody has a honeymoon forever, but I think Josh Heupel probably has another year built into the cake here.”

Finebaum also suggested the Vols tilt with Florida is a must win. The Gators beat Tennessee 38-14 last season and have won 5 straight in the series. Tennessee last beat Florida in 2016.

“Now, this will be repeated many, many times between now and September,” said Finebaum. Have to beat Florida. I mean, that’s the one thing you have to worry about. Is Florida better than we think they are? And if somehow, that game goes Florida’s way early on in the season, that will be a sign to maybe think Florida’s good. But I’m pretty confident Tennessee will win that game. And right now, I can’t tell you a game they’ll definitely lose other than Alabama and Georgia.

Tennessee hosts Florida on Sept. 24. That could be a key moment in Josh Heupel’s second season in Knoxville.