KNOXVILLE — Tennessee fans can rejoice about the Vols being ranked No. 10 in the preseason Amway Coaches Poll, but Coach Butch Jones isn’t about to spend one minute thinking about it.
“I don’t read anything into that,” Jones said Thursday, informed of Tennessee’s top 10 ranking during his regularly scheduled press conference. “One minute spent even thinking about that is a minute wasted that you could be working on your football team.”
Jones doesn’t mind the expectations, so much as he wants to make sure his team keeps its priorities in the right areas.
“There’s nothing for us (in the ranking),” Jones said, “but maybe it’s great for our fanbase and the excitement and all that.
“In terms of us being responsible for what we create, it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.”
Still, it’s the first time Tennessee football has had a top 10 ranking since October of 2006, when first-ballot College Football Hall of Famer Phillip Fulmer was leading the program.
UT was ranked No. 8 on Oct. 29 after a 31-24 win over Steve Spurrier and South Carolina gave the Vols a 7-1 record.
Tennessee junior tailback Jalen Hurd took news of the team’s ranking in stride, clearly not impressed.
“Our expectation for this team is a lot higher than anyone can put us on,” Hurd said. “So we look forward to exceeding those expectations and doing very well.”
The Associated Press preseason poll will be released on Aug. 21, and the FWAA/NFF Super 16 poll will also be out that week.
The last time the Vols had a preseason ranking as high as the one released on Thursday was in 2005, when the team was No. 3 in the Amway Coaches and AP Top 25 preseason polls.
Here is where Tennessee has been ranked in the Amway Coaches Poll in the past 10 preseasons:
2006 — No. 23
2007 — No. 15
2008 — No. 18
2009 — NR
2010 — NR
2011 — NR
2012 — NR
2013 — NR
2014 — NR
2015 — No. 25
2016 — No. 10
Mike Griffith covers Tennessee for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s SEC Country and is based in Knoxville