Tennessee-Florida Game Just Plain Good For SEC and NCAA

tre wellsCorrespondent ISeptember 23, 2009

GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 15:  Field judge Mike Washington prepares for the next play as the Tennessee Volunteers take on the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 15, 2007 in Gainesville, Florida. Florida defeated Tennessee 59-20.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Vegas, usually knows what they are doing.

Though I consider myself fairly proficient in math, none of the formulas I come up with for Blackjack ever seem to pad my savings account. In fact, instead of paying for my vacation, which is what the goal is each time I sit down at a table, I instead probably add to a wing of one of the fine hotels with my “contributions”.

Vegas simply isn’t in the business to make us rich. They know what they are doing, usually.

But after a 30 point spread for the Tennessee-Florida game proved fruitless, the result may speak volumes about a conference already known by many as the best in the country.

The Florida Gators remained No. 1 in all the polls as well they should have. They are hands down the best program in the country. The 10 point margin of victory over the Volunteers speaks more to the coaching and game plan of Tennessee coaches Lane and Monte Kiffin, than it does any drop off , or weakness in the Gator program.

Despite upsets at every level of college football, and I am referring in part to the USC Trojans annual right of passage that they lose to an unranked Pac-10 opponent, Tennessee’s performance against Florida was due more to a level field than Florida looking past them.

Let’s get one thing straight. Florida was in no way, shape or form, looking past Tennessee. The Gators not only had the date of the game circled metaphorically, they also had Tennessee newspaper clippings hanging in their weight room during the off season, literally.

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After cheating accusations by Tennessee’s rookie coach, along with a boast that they would “sing Rocky Top all night long after beating Florida”, the Gators were hungry, and drooling to play Tennessee.

The rout that was expected however, at least by Vegas, never materialized.

This isn’t a conference of “haves” and “have-nots”. Unlike the rest of the country, the SEC is consisted of the “haves” and the “have-mores”.

Tennessee made a respectable showing against the number one team in the nation, not because Florida was overlooking the Vols, but because they had somewhat comparable talent albeit without the depth of Florida.

This conference keeps getting stronger, because it continues to challenge itself. It continues to recruit against itself and continues to coach against itself in a manner other conferences aren’t keeping up with.

The stadiums are bigger, the coaches’ salaries are bigger, and the TV ratings are bigger.

It has become a snowball effect in the SEC, rolling down the national hill, picking up steam along with recruits, growing in size and media attention, and flattening any competition and/or conferences.

The clash between the Vols and the Gators was a showcase to high school recruits across the nation. The verbal jabs between coaches caught their attention, while the atmosphere, the electricity and the play on the field kept it.

There is no doubt the SEC is better when there is a national bully like Florida on top, but it makes the NCAA better when that same conference is full of legitimate challengers who won’t be handing out their milk money for long.


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