Paul Finebaum doesn’t like Tennessee’s chances to produce a memorable start under Jeremy Pruitt in 2018.
On Monday, the SEC Network analyst spoke to a Volunteers fan on The Paul Finebaum Show who predicted the possibility of “a hot start” for Tennessee this year. The Volunteers open against West Virginia, East Tennessee State and UTEP before a challenging stretch to open SEC play featuring games against Florida, at Georgia, at Auburn and against Alabama.
“A hot start?” Finebaum told the fan. “You’re opening up against West Virginia. … You’ve looked at the schedule, haven’t you?”
The fan went on to predict a 2-2 start in the SEC for Tennessee, with victories against Florida and either Georgia or Auburn. Finebaum started laughing.
“One thing I like to do on this show is keep it real,” Finebaum said. “I realize we’re talking to fans. But you said ‘a hot start.’ You’ve got West Virginia, Florida, at Georgia, at Auburn. There are six games, and I’m going to give the UTEP and East Tennessee State games [to Tennessee]. You’re telling me that Tennessee is going to go 4-2 in that run? … You’re telling me that Tennessee is going to Georgia and win this year?
“One thing I love about fans in May [is they] don’t let the facts get in the way of a good preseason.”
On Monday, BetOnline.ag revealed that the Volunteers are a 7-point underdog against West Virginia. Yes, games against East Tennessee State and UTEP are likely victories for Tennessee. But it looks like an uphill climb for the Vols against defending SEC champion Georgia and defending SEC West champion Auburn.
Recently, SEC Network’s Greg McElroy told SEC Country that Pruitt would struggle to meet early expectations at Tennessee. Finebaum seems to agree, and Pruitt’s attempt to build the Vols into an SEC East contender once more will be a large storyline within the conference in the coming years.