Tennessee Vols head coach Josh Heupel was asked on Thursday at SEC Media Days in Atlanta about which three permanent opponents he’d prefer for UT when the SEC moves to a new scheduling model (it’s unclear at this point what that new scheduling model will look like).

I expected Heupel to give a generic response to the question. But to my surprise, he named a few programs.

“I think your historical rivalries, right?” said Heupel. “From the moment I got here, it’s been Alabama, it’s been Vandy, and I think Kentucky is in that same sense too, geographically. Georgia’s a huge rivalry. And Florida.”

“Depending on which age of our fan base you talk to, you’re going to get a different answer,” added Heupel.

Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) tries to avoid tackles during a football game between the Tennessee Volunteers and the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021.
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It’s obvious that Heupel wants to see some of Tennessee’s traditional rivalries stay in place, which most fans probably agree with.

But when it comes to how the new schedule looks, Heupel doesn’t really care. He just wants to line up and play football.

“I don’t have any feelings on it (the new schedule), I don’t get to decide,” said Heupel. “We’ll line up [against] whoever they put on the schedule and get ready to play.”

It seems like the conference is trending toward a “6-3” format, which would mean six rotating opponents and three permanent opponents. If that’s the format that’s adopted, I would bet on Alabama, Florida, and Vanderbilt being the three permanent opponents for Tennessee.

Featured image via Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports