What does Johnny Majors’ 71 Iowa have in common with another SEC team in 2011? jh72

They both lost to #1, 2 and 3 ranked teams in the same year (Iowa St in 1971 and Tennessee in 2011). As an Arkansas fan I take great pride in other schools complaining about having to play us. Did you know that Iowa State’s staff included head coach Johnny Majors who had left the Arkansas staff to take the position in 1968, but also Arkansas native Larry Lacewell and former Arkansas coaches Jackie Sherrill and Jimmy Johnson. Look at this article today from Knoxville:

John Adams: Testing UT: 1, 2, 3

By John Adams

Sunday, November 20, 2011

You knew Tennessee’s schedule would be difficult way back in preseason. You didn’t know it would be as hard as 1-2-3.

LSU is No. 1. Alabama is No. 2. Arkansas is No. 3.

Those rankings provide glaring evidence that all of UT’s football shortcomings aren’t related to coaching changes, player attrition or injuries to its two best offensive players.

Getting up when you’re down is hard enough under normal circumstances. There’s nothing normal about the SEC, especially this season.

An exceptional league is now more exceptional than ever. It’s enough to make Missouri and Texas A&M have second thoughts.

It’s also enough to make you realize second-year coach Derek Dooley is in the midst of the most difficult rebuilding job in UT history.

You can’t gauge the progress simply by checking the record. You also have to check the rankings.

The Vols will head into Saturday’s regular-season finale against Kentucky with a 5-6 record. Half of those losses have come against the three highest ranked teams in the top 25.

There’s more to it than that. Two of the Vols’ other three loses came against nationally ranked South Carolina and Georgia.

The schedule isn’t a one-year fling. Last season, the Vols played five teams that finished in the top 25. Three of those teams finished in the top 10.

No wonder, the Vols still could finish the season with back-to-back losing records for the first time in 100 years.

Former Tennessee coach Johnny Majors can relate better than anyone to Dooley’s plight. And that’s not just because he also faced a major rebuilding job at UT when he returned to his alma mater in 1977.

Even before Majors revitalized UT football or turned Pittsburgh into a national power, he made Iowa State a competitive program in the old Big Eight.

In 1971, Majors’ Iowa State team lost only three regular-season games. It lost them to the top three teams in the country — Nebraska, Oklahoma and Colorado.

UT’s 2011 schedule has been even more arduous.

That doesn’t excuse how badly the Vols played in a 49-7 loss at Arkansas nine days ago. It does add perspective.

Each letdown and slipup is magnified when your talent is down and your schedule is up. There’s no margin for error or injury when that schedule is a virtual top-10 tour.

The best teams can win on a bad day. Teams like UT can get embarrassed on a bad day.

You can look beyond UT and see that. But you don’t have to look far.

Just check out the Vols’ longtime East rival. Florida enters Saturday’s game with Florida State at 6-5. The Gators could finish with no better record than the Vols. And they didn’t start the season with nearly as many disadvantages.

They had one coaching change, not two. They also are only two years removed from winning the SEC East and coming up one game short of back-to-back national championships.

Florida didn’t suffer injury-induced attrition comparable to UT’s loss of wide receiver Justin Hunter, who has played in only three games, or quarterback Tyler Bray, who has missed half the season. But it played a significant segment of the season either without quarterback John Brantley or without him at full strength because of a leg injury. It also was impacted by an injury to running back Jeff Demps.

A turn of the ankle here, a pulled hamstring there, and the next thing you know you’re down four touchdowns against Alabama. That’s life in the SEC.

It can be as hard as 1-2-3.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

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