Long-time readers know that our Tennessee football preseason publication has gone through many changes over the course of the 12 editions it’s been available. It’s had different names, different publishers, and different looks. It’s been on newsstands and not on newsstands. It’s been released in mid-July for the sake of accuracy and in mid-May for the sake of speed. It’s been packaged alone and with t-shirts or decals. It’s introduced four new head coaches and counting. Will Shelton and I have been involved in every edition, but that may be the lone constant (unless you’re one of those people who will point out that there are other constants, like the fact that every edition includes both words and pictures.)
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where and when the train jumped the tracks for Tennessee Football, but this particular period — beginning with the sudden cessation of spring practice a year ago due to the pandemic, this offseason right here right now, and the prospect of a 2021 season with so many unknowns and unknowables — has to be one of the most difficult and weirdest periods of change in the storied history of a proud Tennessee football program.
As Inky Johnson says in that video up there, change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and beautiful in the end. We just didn’t know the process was going to take so long.
A 2021 fall already branded as a Season of Change seems like the perfect time to consider mixing things up a bit ourselves. Rather than just hitting repeat on the past, we’re going to look at everything with fresh eyes this year. The timing of the release date of the preseason publication may change. Publication format and distribution — whether we continue to pre-print for newsstands or go all-in on digital — will probably change. Some of the content may change. The constant will remain so: Will and I are still going to write and publish this thing this year. We and you will find out together what that looks like.
One thing we do already know is that we want to involve you — yes, you — in the creation of the content for the preseason publication. We want your input on our power rankings, predicted records and standings, stock watch, all-conference teams, Top 25, and whatever else makes sense. We’ll be the guide because we’ve been down this road many times before and we know the pitfalls. But we’ve never walked it with you, and this year, we’d like to invite you along. We wish we would have thought of it sooner.