Tuesday, March 21, 2023
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Hoping to play Ole Miss in the SEC Championship Game? Better think twice on that one

Let’s face it. There is one matchup that Tennessee fans would love to see if the Vols can make it to the SEC Championship Game.

Dare I even write it? There is a better than average chance that the Vols could face Lane Kiffin in Atlanta. Looking for drama? The Mercedes-Benz Dome might not be able to hold all of that.

It’s been 13 years since Kiffin left the Vols in the middle of the night for Southern California. We all know how that worked out for both schools. Kiffin was eventually fired. The Vols fell off the SEC map. 

Kiffin, who is now the head coach at Ole Miss, hasn’t faded as other former coaches would have. There are a few reasons why.

First, the Vols had to endure more than a decade of suffering, mostly, because of Kiffin. The Vols went from Kiffin, who was an up-and-coming coach, to Derek Dooley, who struggled to string together consecutive wins at Louisiana Tech when the Vols hired him. Tennessee would have never made the Dooley hire had it not been for the timing of Kiffin’s departure. The Vols had few choices. Dooley was the best of a bunch of bad ones.

There’s another reason why Tennessee fans would like to see Kiffin in Atlanta. Like an ex-spouse that you just can’t get away from on Facebook, Kiffin is seemingly always on social media, especially Twitter. Call it trolling, playful fun or a cry for attention, but Kiffin’s tweets fuel the Vols’ faithful to seek revenge on their former coach.

Kiffin, for no known reason, tweeted a picture taken of him the night he left UT just days before the Tennessee-Alabama game. He’s since played it off, saying it was just a picture that someone sent him and he just thought to Tweet it. Okay.

Kiffin may be that nonchalant or the Tweet could have been premeditated. Whichever the case may be, it was a reminder of the brief glory days in which he presided over the Vols. Kiffin even retweeted the picture a handful of times when it became meme worthy.

It would be easy for Tennessee fans to dismiss Kiffin’s tweets if he tweeted about other teams. He doesn’t. Other than Ole Miss, his content about SEC football is almost always about Tennessee. After Tennessee beat Alabama on Saturday, Kiffin tweeted this:

So what has to happen for the Vols and Kiffin to be on the same football field once again? Well, it’s pretty simple. First, Ole Miss has to beat Alabama, which looks more beatable than it has been in several years. Second, Tennessee has to beat Georgia, which looks more doable than anyone would have dreamed possible just a few short weeks ago.

The Vols had a shot to rub Kiffin’s nose in it last year when they hosted Ole Miss. However, the Vols fell short – just barely – and lost to the Rebels 31-26. The two teams are vastly different this season but the Vols seem particularly adept at closing out games, which wasn’t the case against Ole Miss last season. That makes one think that Tennessee can make it to Atlanta, perhaps beat Kiffin and Ole Miss, and actually win an SEC Championship in what was supposed to be Year Two of a rebuilding phase.

There are plenty of fans – and probably a few straggling administrators – that would love some revenge against Kiffin in Atlanta. Be careful what you wish for. It was disappointing to lose to Kiffin last season. However, that was just a regular season game with no championship nor playoff implications. Losing to Kiffin in Atlanta would be like that ex-spouse taking over your Facebook account. 

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