The decision by the Southeastern Conference to remain at an eight-game conference schedule ensured that crossover rivalries like Tennessee and Alabama would continue to be played, much to the satisfaction of Butch Jones.
Speaking on Monday’s “Press Row” on ESPN Chattanooga’s 105.1 The Zone. Jones said the rivalry between the Volunteers and Crimson Tide is the best rivalry in the SEC.
Tennessee has not defeated Alabama since the Vols knocked off the Crimson Tide by the score of 16-13 in 2006, but when asked if he was happy to keep the rivalry game dubbed The Third Saturday in October on the schedule, Jones didn’t mince words.
"“Absolutely, because it’s a part of our football program and the great tradition we have here. I think the Alabama-Tennessee rivalry is one of the best rivalries in the country, and I think it’s the best rivalry in the Southeastern Conference. To be able to maintain that rivalry is something that we are very excited about.”"
Alabama may not even consider it their best rivalry as the Iron Bowl rivalry with the Auburn Tigers would take that distinction, but what about some of the other top rivalry games in the SEC?
The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party between Florida and Georgia, the Egg Bowl between Ole Miss and Mississippi State and the longest-running SEC rivalry between Auburn and Georgia may disagree with Jones, and although it does not have the history behind it as others, the rivalry between LSU and Alabama the last seven years has been as good as any in college football.
Nevertheless, it’s great for the SEC and for college football to preserve as many rivalry games as possible, especially with some falling by the wayside with conference realignment, so no matter where you rank this rivalry, Jones is right about the fact it is one of the best in the country.
Now Jones just needs to snap the Vols seven-game losing streak to liven up this rivalry.