The Saban effect. He showed you can be, essentially, a local program and a national power at the same time. The "fence around Louisiana" has been copied around the hotbeds. It's not like Tennessee can go cherry pick players from Louisiana (from Miles?), Alabama (from Saban?), Georgia (from Richt?), Florida (from Muschamp and Jimbo?) or South Carolina (from the Ball Coach?) like they used to.
But the expectation to win big is still there. So the expectations are greater than the realistic potential success. You can go 9-3 and do a great job to get them to 9-3, but it won't be enough for the powers that be.
It's not like the state of Alabama is LOADED. SUre, they have pretty damn good talent, but take a look at their recruiting class.
The state of Alabama (they have to share with Auburn) only has 13 players rated as 4 star or better per rivals.
Tennessee on the other hand has 9 and they don't really have to share it. (a good coach can overcome Vandy pretty fast IMO)
That's not that big a difference. The key is Tennessee getting back into GA, NC, and SC. That would require either UGA dropping down like in the 90s or USCe dropping back down. Honestly, i can see USCe dropping off after Spurrier leaves them.
Just another comparison: Last year the state of Alabama had 12 4 star or better recruits.
Tennessee had 10. not that big a difference between Bama and Tennessee IMO.
This post was edited on 12/6 at 12:57 pm