KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — If you're a Tennessee Vols fan, then you know the last 15 years have been hard to swallow.
Seven losing seasons in a 13-year period has made it very hard for some to stay true to the orange and white.
However, after Lane Kiffin's dart to the West Coast in the middle of the night in January of 2009 and three coaching searches, it's not actually as bad as we thought, if you consider their history.
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Let's look at the record books.
After 128 seasons, Tennessee is 12th all-time in winning percentage in all of Division 1 college football, according to the NCAA.
Going into season 129, the Vols have an overall record of 838-390-53, which gives them a .675 winning percentage.
That winning percentage includes 2017, when Tennessee went 4-8 and lost every SEC game, making it the worst season in history and ending with the demise of Butch Jones. It also includes 2011 and 2012, when Derek Dooley and his orange pants lost seven SEC games and resulted in another coaching search.
But there are some good seasons mixed in there that help the Vols stay in the 12th overall spot. Tennessee has four seasons with 10 wins or more since their national championship win over Florida State in 1998. The Vols also have six seasons with eight or more wins in the same time frame.
Now you may think that I am trying to downplay the lack of success that Tennessee has seen in recent years, but that's not the case. As a Tennessee grad myself, I have suffered through some real heartbreakers in Neyland Stadium. Go back four years to 2015, when Baker Mayfield and the Sooners came to town. The Vols led by as many as 17 points in the second half, but thanks to a touchdown run from Mayfield, we lost in double-overtime. So, I understand the pain of being a passionate Tennessee football fan.
Now let's get back to the numbers.
The only other SEC team with a higher win percentage than the Vols is longtime rival Alabama. The Crimson Tide have an overall record of 905-329-43, a .726 winning percentage.
The Michigan Wolverines are the most successful program in college football history. They boast a .730 winning percentage with an overall record of 953-342-36.
Yes, the Volunteers have caused many tears to flow in the past decade and a half for Big Orange fans, but it doesn't diminish the historical success of the team.
Looking ahead to this season
Aug. 1 is the start of training camp, and that means football season is just a few weeks away.
As Tennessee gets ready to kick off the 2019 season under second-year head coach Jeremy Pruitt, the Vols prepare to move on from two of the program's worst conference records in school history.
Pruitt brings a championship attitude from his time with Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide. In his first year, Pruitt's team scored their first touchdown on a fourth-and-1 catch in the season opener against West Virginia.
Pruitt continues to improve his coaching staff with three new additions. This off season, he added VFL and national championship-winning former quarterback Tee Martin, former Tennessee assistant Jim Chaney and former Oakland Raiders assistant Derrick Ansley to the staff.
Tennessee pulled in the 12th ranked recruiting class for 2019 with two five-stars and 11 four-stars that can contribute this year.
So, after years of dealing with losing seasons, coaching searches, a coach sneaking out after one year and those Butchisms, things are starting to look up for those that cheer on the Orange and White.
In just a few short weeks, Tennessee will get another opportunity to go out and compete and try to earn a winning season in year two for Jeremy Pruitt.
The Volunteers will kick off the 2019 season against Georgia State.
The famous words of the late John Ward - It's Football Time in Tennessee! - will be heard at 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 31 in Neyland Stadium.
Editor's Note: Brian Akins is a producer at WBIR with a passion for Tennessee sports.