Urban Meyer Leaving Florida: Can Tennessee Become the Beast of the SEC East?

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Urban Meyer Leaving Florida: Can Tennessee Become the Beast of the SEC East?
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Well, it's December. It must be time for Urban Meyer to resign. 

This time around, however, all indications are that Meyer will not be changing his mind in a week. That means Florida athletic director has a lot of work to do quickly. 

There were reports early this season that some of Florida's highly touted freshman class were regretting their decision to stick with Florida after Urban Meyer's first resignation last December. 

Now, another Meyer resignation during one of the more crucial time periods for recruiting is certain to have some effect. Currently, rivals.com has Florida's 2011 class ranked at No. 9 in the nation. If recent recruiting trends have taught us anything, it's that you simply cannot strikeout on any single recruiting year and expect to stay at the top. 

All of that means that it is high time for another team to step up and take the SEC East away from Florida. South Carolina proved this season that it is ready to take that step, but even with a loaded team it lost four games, two of which were of the blowout variety. 

Georgia is reeling after it's second disappointing season in a row as questions surround its coaching staff. Kentucky and Vanderbilt are still Kentucky and Vanderbilt. 

That leaves a rejuvenated Tennessee program, with a relatively new head coach who helped orchestrate a remarkable turnaround to get his first Vols team to a bowl game, to paint the lackluster SEC East orange. 

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Tennessee has already had its rock-bottom moment. After firing longtime head coach Phillip Fulmer in the middle of the '08 season, then watching his replacement, Lane Kiffin, bolt for the USC job after his first season, the Vols had nowhere to go but up. 

Tennessee lost recruits and key starters as a result of all the turmoil surrounding its coaching situation. The lack of warm, experienced bodies became the crutch that first year head coach Derek Dooley was able to rely on to deflect any pressure for much of his first season in Knoxville. 

Next year doesn't promise much more than this season did. It's still going to take more than one recruiting year to turn this program around. But with Florida and Georgia in a state of flux and South Carolina's difficulty reaching its full potential, Tennessee could very well end up atop the heap once the dust settles. 

Derek Dooley and Tyler Bray did everything they could do to get Tennessee fans believing again. It could still be too soon to even dare to dream about the big orange gaining SEC East supremacy.

With Urban Meyer's resignation today, however, the greatest roadblock to another SEC East team rising to the top has been removed.

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