Tennessee athletic director Danny White likes what he sees from Josh Heupel and the Vols so far this season.

It’s hard to blame him.

  • Tennessee is off to a 4-2 start under Heupel, including back-to-back SEC wins against Missouri and South Carolina.
  • The Vols’ scoring offense is ranked No. 7 in the country after finishing the 2020 season with the No. 109 scoring offense.
  • Neyland Stadium is sold out for this weekend’s matchup against Ole Miss. It’s the first sellout since 2017.

Everything is going as well as White could’ve envisioned when he hired Heupel nearly nine months ago.

In fact, it’s going a bit better this season than White expected.

While appearing on 104.5 The Zone this week with JMart & Ramon, White suggested that Tennessee is overachieving this season under Heupel.

It’s important to provide some context to White’s proclamation because I’m sure some fans will take this comment the wrong way.

White wasn’t suggesting that Heupel is going above and beyond what he was hired to do at UT. Yes, White feels like the players on the roster are overachieving a bit, but he doesn’t view what happens this season as his ultimate goal at UT.

The Tennessee athletic director has his sights set on building a program that competes for championships year after year.

“We’re trying to build a program, we’re not trying to build a roster year to year,” said White on 104.5 The Zone. “This roster, this group of kids I think is probably overachieving compared to maybe what national pundits thought we’d be this year.”

“But it’s going to take time to get our program to where we want it to be, where it’s sustainable year in and year out.”

White is happy that Tennessee is playing well this season. But it’s what happens a few years down the road that’s really important to White, which will require patience.

Patience isn’t a virtue that’s prevalent among Vol fans. But White is correct that fans need to be patient.

Heupel is making progress, but he still has a long way to go before Tennessee is on the same level as Alabama and Georgia.

There are going to be some speedbumps along the way. Maybe one of those speedbumps is this weekend against Ole Miss.

Fans just need to understand that White cares deeply about making this program relevant nationally. And he’s going to do whatever it takes to get Tennessee to that point. A win or loss this weekend against Ole Miss won’t define what the future looks like for the Vols.

Featured image via Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel via Imagn Content Services