Tennessee head coach Phil Fulmer's worst nightmare is back, and in case the hefty leader of the Vols hasn't cared to notice, you can't blame him. After all the hoopla and fanfare of the former leader Florida Gators football program's arrival in South Carolina, somehow Steve Spurrier has hovered beneath the SEC radar.His first coming out part was Southeastern Conference Media Day, an event Fulmer decided to make this year.
A year ago, he decided to skip out, to avoid a legal circus and subpoena involving a former Alabama assistant coach who claimed Fulmer was in cahoots to bring down the Tide football program. An NCAA investigation led to the school being placed on probation for five years in 2002.Alabama got a slight measure of revenge by defeating Fulmer's Vols 6-3 on a late field goal, now his squad heads back to Knoxville to face another old nemesis affectionally known as "the ol' ball coach".
Spurrier left a Florida Gator program that would defeat Tennessee on a yearly basis during the time current NFL MVP Peyton Manning was calling the plays.Currently, Bill Bellichick New England Patriots are the squad Manning can't seem to solve, almost a decade ago it was Spurrier's boys that dealt the blow to his Heisman and National Championship hopes. It wasn't until Manning left Tennessee as the #1 pick in the NFL Draft, Tee Martin got Tennessee over the hump and past Florida and another Sunshine state team, Florida State, for Fulmer's lone NCAA Title.
This Saturday at Neyland Stadium, there are no Peyton Manning's, or even Danny Wuerffel's behind center for these squads, and the luster seems to just not be there as of yet. But, if you're an avid SEC football junkie, seeing these two coaches opposing each other has to get you at least a little excited. Spurrier and his Gator club used to taunt Tennessee all week leading up to kickoff, and walk off the field afterwards still talking trash.His new Gamecock club is still in it's infant stages of building a winning tradition, so the verbal jabs probably aren't coming. But, man just wait, once Spurrier gets the players in place, you'll hear the mouth of the man with the visor.
Better jump on Spurrier now, he'll be back to running up the score on over-matched opponents soon enough.Don't look for the fans in Knoxville to show Spurrier any mercy, he will be greeted with a chorus of boos when he leads his squad out of the tunnel. Tennessee must win, or they fall out of the top 25 and their post season outlook gets very cloudy. A win by South Carolina would instantly launch them into bowl eligibility and into "legit" conference status.South Carolina comes into this match-up as two touchdown underdogs, but with a huge mental edge. Both teams have lost their running backs for the season, Gerald Riggs for the Vols and Syvelle Newton for the Gamecocks.
Spurrier, the master at making average quarterbacks look like stars, has a young sophomore in Blake Mitchell that could be the next on that list..John O'Nan is a freelance sports journalist who currently writes for http://www.realfootball365.
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By: John Onan