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Moral Victories Aren't So Bad After All

GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 19:  Tim Tebow #15 of the Florida Gators is tackled by Eric Berry #14 of the Tennessee Volunteers during the game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Stephen SmithContributor ISeptember 21, 2009

Florida State coach Bobby Bowden once said, "I am not happy with moral victories. Those things are forgotten."

And, at least publicly, I'm sure Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin would echo Bowden's sentiment. After all, left Florida Field angry. But not because the defending national champions hammered his team as many thought they would.

Kiffin was stewing because he knew the Volunteers could have pulled off a shocker.
When I predicted Tennessee would lose to Florida 20-10 before the season began, people laughed and called me a homer. It's true, you know.

As a Tennessee native, I suppose that I am a bit of a homer when it comes to Tennessee football-but I was still right on the money when it came to the margin of victory. And that's because, as predicted, the talent gap between Tennessee and Florida isn't nearly as wide as people think.

In fact, the only thing separating the two is attitude, that showed up when Florida quarterback Tim Tebow managed to escape Tennessee defender Wes Brown's grasp on a crucial third down and again when Jonathan Crompton threw an interception to snuff out Tennessee's hopes with two minutes left.

The bottom line is that Florida is used to winning and Tennessee is not...at least right now. Kiffin and his father turned a lot of heads yesterday by not only hanging in, but going toe-to-toe with the Gators in a game billed as a runaway.

Eric Berry, with an interception against and a thunderous lick on Gators' quarterback Tim Tebow, made it clear he's worthy of all the hype he gets. In fact, he probably doesn't get enough.

Conversely, Crompton doesn't deserve much. His play the last two weeks has people combing Rivals.com for next year's starter while simultaneously wondering if Nick Stephens is ready to take over immediately. (The answer is no, by the way.)

Monetrio Hardesty and Bryce Brown can and will cover up Crompton's inadequacies next week at home when the Volunteers run over, around and through the Ohio Bobcats. Afterwards, the same gameplan the Kiffins used to frustrate the Gators should also work against Auburn, Georgia, Alabama, etc.

Even at 1-2, Kiffin can't helped but be pleased with his team overall-even though he'd never, ever admit it.


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