Urban Meyer Was Right: Tennessee Volunteers' Lane Kiffin Wasn't Going for Win

Jay Holgate@@CollegeScoutATLContributor IIISeptember 23, 2009

GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 19:  Head coach Urban Meyer of the Florida Gators applauds a touchdown during the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Original story published on SEC Sports Report.

ATLANTA, Ga.—Who's right?  Urban Meyer or Lane Kiffin?  Was Kiffin going for the win?

Here is the full story on Urban Meyer’s claim that Lane Kiffin wasn’t playing for the win.   I watched the game on CBS and I saw it again on SEC Sports Digital.  There are definitely some conclusions about the way this game ended that non-partisan observers can agree on. 

Summary of What Happened

The score is 23-6.  Florida is on a nice drive and looks like they will score again.  The CBS commentators were of the opinion that the game was out of reach.  Then Tim Tebow fumbles inside the five-yard line with less than 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter. 

At 11:37 in the fourth quarter, Tennessee gets the ball back. 

On Tennessee’s first play, they lose yardage and it takes 37 seconds off the clock before they snap the ball for second down.  There is no indication by the Tennessee players to hurry.

Jonathan Crompton pass complete to Bryce Brown for three yards to the Tennessee 37.  The next play takes another 35 seconds from the end of the play to the next snap. Tick, tick, tick.

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Jonathan Crompton pass complete to Bryce Brown for 21 yards to the Florida 42 for a first down.  Play No. 3 takes 25 seconds from the end of the play until the hike of the ball.  Running back Bryce Brown had an opportunity to go out of bounds, but did not.  The clock keeps ticking.

The Tennessee Volunteers score their first touchdown of the day with 8:11 left in the fourth quarter.  The drive is for seven plays, 66 yards and takes off three minutes and 26 seconds.  The CBS commentators do not speak as if the Vols are back in the game. 

Florida gets the ball back for three plays and three yards, taking another 2:10 off the clock.

Tennessee gets the ball back for nine plays 27 yards, and another 04:10 is wiped off the clock before Crompton throws an interception.  Florida runs out the clock for the last 1:51.

Game over.  Florida wins 23-13.

Florida Coach Urban Meyer’s Statement

"I didn't feel like they were going for the win. They wanted to shorten the game," Meyer said. "I think that was the plan.  I remember looking out there and there's 10 minutes left in the game and there's no no-huddle, they are down, I think it was 23-6 and no urgency on Tennessee's part."

There are several camera shots of Coach Kiffin during the drive in question but no indication to hurry up by the Vol coach.  There was no indication that he was trying to milk the clock either.


1)  It appears to be an accurate statement by Meyer that the Vols were trying to shorten the game as a general strategy.  It wasn’t necessarily a fourth-quarter strategy.

2)  Coach Meyer was relaying his expertise in coaching that, with less than 12 minutes, and down by two touchdowns, you better hurry it up.  With 10 minutes left in the game, and down by 17, it appears that Urban Meyer was one of just a few people that believed the Vols could still win.  Kiffin did not believe Tennessee could win or he would have managed the clock differently.

3)  Coach Kiffin seems to be just trying to call a play that would have a positive result.  Coach Kiffin was not managing the clock well or hurrying his team up so they could win the game. 

In hindsight, the reality is Tennessee could have gotten back in the game.  It’s a long shot, but Tebow fumbling inside the five isn’t on the mark either.  If Kiffin had a chance to do it over, he would have run a hurry-up offense, starting with the Tebow fumble.  It would have given the Vols a chance.

Urban Meyer was right.  There was no urgency by Coach Kiffin in the fourth quarter.  After looking at the facts, I believe that Tennessee was not going for the win but merely for a respectable loss. Kiffin beat the spread but that was it.

Until next time, I will see you on the ball field.

Jay Holgate is an SEC analyst, freelance writer and editor of SEC Sports Report.  He can be heard around the South on sports radio.  He can be reached at editor (at) SECsportsReport (dot) com.

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