Dear Coach Meyer:
I feel certain that, by now, you have heard that Tennessee head football coach Lane Kiffin accused you of cheating. Surely word must have reached you; it was, after all, widely reported throughout the blogosphere, from Dr. Saturday to Alligator Army, from Clay Travis to Deadspin, from Every Day Should Be Saturday to right here at Dawg Sports.
I, of course, was shocked at the leveling of such an accusation against a man of your stature, as I know you would never commit an N.C.A.A. infraction. Oh, sure, you might gripe and complain about the rules you have to follow, but, by golly, I’m 100 per cent convinced you follow them to the letter. (The spirit of the rule? Well, maybe, maybe not, but the letter? Oh, yeah, I’m positive you’re staying inside the letter, technicalities and loopholes and all.)
Since Coach Kiffin is new to the conference, and your familiarity with the S.E.C. as a relative newcomer to the league yourself is somewhat limited, I should take this opportunity to introduce you to the Volunteers, whom you may have overlooked.
You’ve gone 4-0 against the Big Orange since arriving in Gainesville, so you probably don’t view Tennessee as much of a rival. However, while Coach Spurrier was building the Gator program in the 1990s, the Vols were the major obstacle standing between Florida and the conference championship.
Coach Spurrier’s first loss as the Saurians’ head coach was a 45-3 thrashing his team absorbed in Knoxville; it was Florida’s only S.E.C. loss of the 1990 campaign. Coach Spurrier’s last loss as the Saurians’ head coach was a 34-32 heartbreaker to the Big Orange suffered in The Swamp; that loss deprived Florida of a trip to the 2001 conference title game.
Between 1992 and 2001, Florida and Tennessee were the only two teams to represent the Eastern Division in the S.E.C. championship game. The annual grudge match between the Gators and the Volunteers was, throughout the glory years of Florida football---I’m sorry, the former glory years of Florida football (before you got to Gainesville, of course)---the biggest game in the S.E.C. East, bar none.
I know you to be the sort of coach who circles big games on the calendar months in advance, who focuses his laser-like intensity on showing up particular opponents in special games, and who internalizes every perceived slight as a wrong to be righted in the only just and fair way you believe wrongs can be righted in this world: by embarrassing the other fellow in a way that brings you the momentary pleasure of a fleeting sense of vindication and thereby silences, if only for an instant, the nagging self-doubt that plagues you deep in the soulless innards of your cold mechanical robotic heart that renders you incapable of love.
No, it’s O.K.; it’s perfectly normal. You shouldn’t consider yourself psychologically twisted, emotionally stunted, and deeply unhappy in any way whatsoever. The fact that Lane Kiffin’s daddy loves him enough to serve as his defensive coordinator should not in any manner remind you of the fact that you use winning football games as a shallow and pathetic substitute for the obvious lack of affection and affirmation you received as a child, not any more than the fact that Bobby Bowden has made every effort to help his sons advance in the coaching profession or the fact that Mark Richt’s entire extended family has relocated to Athens.
The fact that your hated rivals all seem to come from caring families and be well-adjusted adult human beings is sheer coincidence and has nothing to do with your burning need to destroy them to snuff out the pain and silence the voices telling you you’ll never be good enough, no matter how many scores you run up or how many championships you win. That’s just something thought by every sentient being who has ever observed your behavior, but they’re probably just jealous, because you’re Urban Meyer and they’re not.
Well, anyway, Florida’s real rival has reasserted itself. Lane Kiffin has interfered with your recruits, stolen them away from you after they already gave you their verbal commitments, and mocked and belittled you by calling you a cheater and a loser. A cheater and a loser! Who does this guy think he is, anyway?
Clearly, it is time to teach Coach Kiffin a lesson . . . Coach Kiffin and all those Volunteers. They deserve to be the object of your whole focus. They are the only Eastern Division rival that matters. The entirety of your attention must be trained on Tennessee and Tennessee alone. I mean, who is this upstart to call you a cheater and a loser? Did I mention that he called you a cheater and a loser? That’s worse than any other insult I know! It’s certainly much worse than, say, doing a dance in your own end zone at a neutral site.
I have heard talk among some ignorant Gator fans that there is another team in the Eastern Division about which to worry. I can’t recall which team that is, exactly. South Carolina, maybe? (They do, after all, have Coach Spurrier! Who is a more beloved Gator than you will ever be, and whose sons are right there on the field with him in Columbia, just rubbing your nose in their normal loving human relationships.) Anyway, I’m sure this other team, whichever one it is, is nothing to worry about for you. No, Tennessee’s the one you need to be thinking about, morning, noon, and night. Oh, yes, it’s going to be a big deal.
Oh, now I remember: Georgia. Some silly folks think you should worry about Georgia. This, obviously, is absurd. Who the heck is Georgia, anyway? For crying out loud, you beat Georgia 49-10 when the Bulldogs supposedly were national championship contenders!
Forget about Georgia. Florida has beaten Georgia 16 teams in the last 19 years. That’s not a rivalry! Don’t pay any attention to those 19-year cycles or Georgia’s record against defending national champions or the open date before the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. These are mere trifles, for you have Tim Tebow and you have, well, you.
No, circling the Georgia game on the calendar would just be a waste of Magic Marker. It’s Tennessee, I tell you. It’s always been Tennessee. Ignore the Richt behind the curtain; Lane Kiffin is your enemy now. Go get him!
And Georgia? Don’t worry about Georgia. You play the Bulldogs in your own back yard, and you really showed them after the end zone celebration business. The time outs? The fake kneel down? The 49 points? Yes, that whole thing about the Bulldogs being a rival is ancient history. What is this, 1968?
Georgia is nobody. Overlook the Bulldogs. Just move along right on down Duval Street; there’s nothing to see here by the St. John’s River.
Just ignore Georgia. Georgia might as well be one of those Mississippi schools Florida can look past with no risk. Nope, none whatsoever.
T. Kyle King
P.S.: Lane Kiffin called you a cheater and a loser! I also heard he told Nu’Keese Richardson that your dad said that Nu’Keese should play for Tennessee because Lane was more like a son to him than you are. Do you believe that crap?