Tennessee left out of Top 25, but not too far from breaking in


KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The first Associated Press poll of the year is out, and it has Tennessee in 33rd place, eight spots out of the official Top 25.

Our own John Adams was responsible for about half of the Vols’ 15 points by ranking the team 18th in his poll.

I guess it comes down to how you define the preseason poll: Is it a power poll based on teams’ relative strengths and talents? Is it is a prediction of what you expect the poll to look like at the end of the season? Is it something else entirely?

I guess the short answer is that it really doesn’t matter, as the poll no longer means anything, and the preseason poll means less than that. But it’s still fun to talk about.

The Vols’ media day starts in a few hours at Neyland Stadium. Until then, here’s today’s 11.

1. Want to see the three people in addition to John Adams who voted the Vols in the Top 25? Thanks to the magic of this website, we can.

2. Matt Dixon had a very interesting tweet that I will share here: At No. 33, Tennessee is the second highest ranked team in the AP poll that had a losing record last year. No. 18 Ohio State went 6-7.

3. One of the stories out of today’s media day could be the status of tight end Brendan Downs. I didn’t spend much time in today’s paper on his possible injury in the scrimmage, as coach Derek Dooley didn’t mention it. But let’s just say the social media world has been abuzz since last night. If Downs’ injury is serious, it would raise real depth concerns at tight end.

4. Davante Bourque’s situation is an unfortunate one. Certainly none of us were paragons of sound judgment and responsibility at the age of 18. Nor is playing football the only way to achieve success in life. Still, you can’t help but feel he’s throwing away a valuable opportunity that he may never have a chance to reclaim.

5. Gary Danielson had some interesting stuff on Tennessee and Florida: “They are my wild cards. I love those two teams. This Tennessee-Florida game (on Sept. 15) might be the best one in the seven years I’ve done this because it is going to be a high-stakes game for both teams. There are some tremendously gifted players on offense for Tennessee. If Tyler Bray is who I think he is, he’ll have a great year. Tennessee is loaded at wide receiver and has some veterans on the offensive line. This is a highly motivated football team.”

6. Why is the opener against N.C. State so important? If the Vols win, they should be 2-0 going into that showdown with Florida. (And, yes, I’m assuming a win over Georgia State . If the Vols lose that game, they’ve got much bigger problems than N.C. State or Florida).

7. I talked about this on the SportsPage with Vince Ferrara a little bit last week, but maybe we’re selling the SEC East short after a couple years of West dominance. If Florida and Tennessee have bounce-back years, and Georgia and South Carolina are both as good as they can be, that’s not a bad division.

8. John Adams wrote a well-timed column on backup quarterbacks that ran in today’s paper.

9. We didn’t know that current backup Justin Worley would get such an extended opportunity in Friday’s scrimmage, but we figured he would get plenty of reps.

He’s quietly had a very strong camp. I wasn’t around last year, but it sounds like he was thrown into an impossible situation when Bray went down with injury. His struggles as a freshman shouldn’t be judged too harshly.

10. I love prospects who know how to play the recruiting game. Check out this tweet from Jacksonville, Fla., defensive end DeMarcus Walker: “I’m really feelin orange and white lately. Knoxville might need to make some room for me.”

11. Kudos to Tyrann Mathieu, the Honey Badger, for taking ownership of his mistakes. But why is it that millions of Americans manage to use marijuana without suffering this somewhat dubious addiction that seems to afflict mainly college athletes? Could it be that Mathieu’s real problem is engaging in reckless, self-destructive decisions?

And why do universities and the NCAA test for marijuana anyway? It’s not a performance-enhancing drug. I guarantee that if you polled coaches anonymously and asked whether they would prefer their players smoke weed in their apartments on Friday night or go out and get drunk at the bars, the results would be overwhelmingly one-sided. Alcohol would lose badly.

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