The Tennessee football program has been a fascinating entity to follow this year.

Heading into the season, the hype surrounding Butch Jones and the Vols was immense. UT was projected to win the SEC East — and perhaps offer the toughest challenge to the bully on the block in Alabama.

However, it didn’t unfold the way Tennessee wanted.

Injuries completely decimated the defense. At times, the Volunteers were missing 10 defensive players within their two-deep. As such, the team finished with a respectable 8-4 record.

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Jones has drawn the ire of some people — despite recruiting at a high level, and improving the team’s record for three-straight seasons.

247Sports had a scathing report on the culture of the program, which was described as “a disaster.”

SEC Nation analyst (and former Alabama quarterback) Greg McElroy recently had this to say about Jones:

Tennessee has a chance to win its ninth game in a second-straight season, as it takes on Nebraska in the Music City Bowl. Recruiting is also going exceptionally well at this point — as UT just landed one of the nation’s best players in Trey Smith. It also has a top-10 class nationally.

Assuming Tennessee gets back to full health next year, it will be interesting to see how this program progresses into the future.