Football futility

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Tennessee football fans are discouraged, and that's understandable. The program has posted back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since Andrew A. Stone's Volunteers went 3-5-1 in 1910 and Z.G. Clevenger's team went 3-4-2 in 1911.

That was precisely 100 years ago for those of you keeping score at home.

Moreover, Tennessee's record of 23-27-0 from 2008 to now represents the worst four-year winning percentage (.460) since George Levene (1-6-2), Stone (3-5-1) and Clevenger (3-4-2, 4-4-0) combined to go 11-19-5 (.386) between 1909 and 1912.

There have been just eight four-year blocs in program history during which the Vols lost more games than they won. The worst was 1903-06, when H.F. Fisher (4-5-0), S.D. Crawford (3-5-1) and J.D. Depree (3-5-1, 1-6-2) combined for a 11-21-4 record and a .361 winning percentage.

Even Tennessee's first four years of collegiate competition were more fruitful than that. The Orange went 0-1 in 1891, 2-5 in 1892, 2-4 in 1893 and 4-0 in 1896, producing a four-year record of 8-10 and a .444 winning percentage.

Prior to now, the most recent four-year bloc featuring more Vol losses than wins occurred at the start of Johnny Majors' tenure. He went 4-7-0 in 1977, 5-5-1 in '78, 7-5-0 in '79 and 5-6-0 in '80 for a record of 21-23-1 and a winning percentage of .478.

Interestingly enough, Tennessee has had three four-year blocs that produced an equal number of wins and losses. The Vols went 16-16-3 from 1910-1913, 22-22-1 from 1975-1978 and 22-22-1 from 1976-1979.

For the masochists among you, here's a chronological breakdown of the worst four-year stretches in Big Orange history:

1891 THROUGH 1894

0-1-0 in 1891 (no coach)

2-5-0 in 1892 (no coach)

2-4-0 in 1893 (no coach)

4-0-0 in 1894 (no coach)

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8-10-0 (.444)

1902 THROUGH 1905

6-2-0 in 1902 (H.F. Fisher)

4-5-0 in 1903 (Fisher)

3-5-1 in 1904 (S.D. Crawford)

3-5-1 in 1905 (J.D. Depree)

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16-17-2 (.486)

1903 THROUGH 1906

4-5-0 in 1903 (Fisher)

3-5-1 in 1904 (Crawford)

3-5-1 in 1905 (Depree)

1-6-2 in 1906 (Depree)

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11-21-4 (.361)

1908 THROUGH 1911

7-2-0 in 1908 (George Levene)

1-6-2 in 1909 (Levene)

3-5-1 in 1910 (Andrew A. Stone)

3-4-2 in 1911 (Z.G. Clevenger)

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14-17-5 (.458)

1909 THROUGH 1912

1-6-2 in 1909 (Levene)

3-5-1 in 1910 (Stone)

3-4-2 in 1911 (Clevenger)

4-4-0 in 1912 (Clevenger)

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11-19-5 (.386)

1961 THROUGH 1964

6-4-0 in 1961 (Bowden Wyatt)

4-6-0 in 1962 (Wyatt)

5-5-0 in 1963 (Jim McDonald)

4-5-1 in 1964 (Doug Dickey)

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19-20-1 (.488)

1977 THROUGH 1980

4-7-0 in 1977 (Johnny Majors)

5-5-5 in 1978 (Majors)

7-5-0 in 1979 (Majors)

5-6-0 in 1980 (Majors)

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21-23-1 (.478)

2008 THROUGH 2011

5-7-0 in 2008 (Phillip Fulmer)

7-6-0 in 2009 (Lane Kiffin)

6-7-0 in 2010 (Derek Dooley)

5-7-0 in 2011 (Dooley)

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23-27-0 (.460)