Has Lane Kiffin Already Beaten Urban Meyer?

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Has Lane Kiffin Already Beaten Urban Meyer?
(Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

Ahh…. Lane Kiffin and Urban Meyer.

One coach is the defending National Champion with multiple rings, a Heisman QB in his back pocket, a defense stockpiled with returning starters, and enough speed to burn at the skill positions that I’m surprised there aren’t some type of activists lining up to complain of energy waste.

The other has never been a head coach at the collegiate level.

One is calm, cool, and collected. A mastermind at his profession, his teams destroy opponents, taking their foot off the throat only long enough to soak in the moment before taking their last breath from them (see Georgia).

The other stumbles over words he never should have uttered, makes grander claims and predictions than a politician, and always appears to be on the verge of starting a "your momma is so ugly" contest with anyone who questions him.

So which coach is more worried about their first meeting against each other in September?

At first glance, the easy answer is Kiffin, but if you take a deeper look, it may not be that simple.

Ever since coming to Tennessee in Nov. '08, Lane Kiffin has been anywhere but behind the scenes. Embarrassing himself numerous times with his misunderstanding of recruiting rules is one thing, but Kiffin went much further out on the limb than that.

He called out the defending National Champions during his press conference, stating “It's going to be fun hearing ‘Rocky Top' after we beat Florida next year!”.

Then he went so far as to taunt Urban about having to “cheat” to try and get his recruits before being told what Urban did actually wasn’t a recruiting violation.

Why would he wake the sleeping dragon? Why would he tug on Superman’s cape (or at least his coach’s cape)? To try and answer, I have to believe Kiffin knows exactly what he is doing.           

I learned a long time ago as a teenager that if I was ever going to have to go to prison (God forbid), Prison Survival Rule No. 1 was essential to not only survival, but success.

Hit the biggest, baddest one there right in the kisser!

Kiffin has done that and not even flinched.

Doesn’t he know that Florida will shred them to pieces, as they have for the past few years? Doesn’t he realize that a pissed off Urban holds grudges? Does he care?

I think the answers to those questions respectively are Yes, Yes, and Not in the slightest.

It’s possible that the pressure is all on Urban Meyer and the Florida Gators. They are expected to till the ground with the Vols. Down in the swamp, Florida should put up half of a hundred easily, right?

However, this is becoming a “lose lose” situation for Urban. Anything short of a blowout is going to be considered a win for Kiffin. Bringing a former 5-7 team into the swamp against the mighty Gators and losing by 14 or 17 points would be a major victory for the young coach.

That’s not even factoring in the unfathomable event that UT pulls the upset. Even if this year is a blowout, next year won’t be easier for Meyer. Another solid recruiting class and the playing field starts to level a bit.

Neyland Stadium would not be as friendly for the Gators as the Swamp, and the players would be in their second year of Kiffin’s system. And before you Gator fans start laughing at the possibility of this being anything close to an actual game, just remember:

UT has a .500 record in the Swamp this decade.

There is no film on Kiffin, while there are several years of Urban’s systems at Florida for Kiffin to study.

This is not a UT team lacking in talent. Last year, it boasted the No. 3 defense in the nation and was a year removed from the SEC Championship game. In addition, Kiffin brings in a top 10 recruiting class.

Urban Meyer doesn’t think Kiffin’s antics are funny, and it’s been reported that the newspaper clippings of Kiffin’s remarks are plastered in the Florida Gator locker room. I have never heard of a team figured to dominate by so much needing bulletin board material.

There is a lot of excitement in Knoxville. If anything, Kiffin has brought that to the team. And if his team happens to take on his personality, go down to the Swamp, and hit the biggest baddest team right in the kisser, he just might bring something else to Knoxville…a win over Florida.

 

T.W. 03/31/2009

 

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