Alabama Football: Are the Tennessee Vols a ‘B’ team?


Tennessee fans and Alabama Football head coach Nick Saban agree on one thing. It may well be the only thing in which such a meeting of the minds occurs. That thing is the Tennessee Vols are no ‘B’ team.

Apparently, the SEC does not consider Josh Huepel’s team an ‘A’ team.

Alabama football fans can chuckle at the Vols being denigrated by the SEC. Except for the fact, the consequences could place Alabama Football at a disadvantage.

Debate over the 2024 SEC schedule is moot. What can and will be hotly debated is the 2025 and beyond SEC schedule.

Looking forward for Alabama Football

Astute observers have concluded Nick Saban’s complaint about a 3-6 schedule is really about SEC schedules beginning in 2025. If Alabama’s permanent rivals are Auburn, LSU and Tennessee, the Crimson Tide will have a tougher schedule in many seasons than do most other SEC teams.

Let’s look closer at the SEC’s thinking for the 2024 schedule, as explained by Pat Forde,

"Without publicizing a specific breakdown, the league is operating on an eight-team “A” list of more successful teams and an eight-team “B” list. The SEC neatly divided every team’s schedule into four “A” games and four “B” games, two apiece at home and two apiece on the road."

The SEC’s premise is solid, but it fails when any teams are miscategorized.

SEC ‘A’ Teams

  • Alabama Crimson Tide
  • Auburn Tigers
  • Georgia Bulldogs
  • Florida Gators
  • LSU Bengal Tigers
  • Oklahoma Sooners
  • Texas Longhorns
  • Texas A&M Aggies

SEC ‘B’ Teams

  • Arkansas Razorbacks
  • Kentucky Wildcats
  • Ole Miss Rebels
  • Mississippi State Bulldogs
  • Missouri Tigers
  • South Carolina Gamecocks
  • Tennessee Vols
  • Vanderbilt Commodores

Pat Forde summarized the SEC set up a “fair” and “balanced” schedule for 2024. Alabama football fans have reason to disagree. An easy comparison is the paths to an SEC Championship Game for the Crimson Tide and LSU. The obvious conclusion is Brian Kelly’s team has a much easier path.

Tennessee fans are aggrieved by a ‘B’ designation. The argument for the Vols is a pretty solid one.

"… there’s no way that he (Forde) thinks Tennessee, a program that was ranked No. 1 in the College Football Playoff rankings at one point last season before finishing 11-2 with a blowout win against Clemson in the Orange Bowl, is a “B team” in the SEC.On what planet is a 5-7 Texas A&M team or a 6-7 Oklahoma team an “A team” over an 11-2 Tennessee team?And sure, I get that last year’s records mean nothing when it comes to the 2023 season and beyond. But the Vols are clearly a program on the rise …"

Next. Lack of respect for Crimson Tide Running Backs. dark

Distaste for Pat Forde goes way back for some Tennessee fans. But, the SEC is to blame if in a 2025 (and beyond) 3-6 format, Alabama frequently plays five ‘A’ teams (counting Tennessee) while other top contenders play only four.