Timing is everything

It took a national tragedy (last September's terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon) to accomplish what UT administrators have been trying to achieve for years -- moving the Vol-Florida football game to late in the season.

Over the past decade, Tennessee and Florida clearly proved themselves the two best teams in the Southeastern Conference. Yet, their annual showdown is played in September ... leaving the rest of the season somewhat anti-climactic. Why not have the Vols and Gators meet late in the season, allowing the suspense to build to nerve-wracking proportions?

Last season's game, played Dec. 1 in response to the terrorist acts three months earlier, was a rousing success. With both SEC and national championship aspirations at stake, the atmosphere was electric when the teams finally took the field for their long-awaited showdown. The result: College football at its finest and most dramatic.

So why don't the Vols and Gators meet late every year? If UT head man Phillip Fulmer had his way, they would.

''I think there's a lot of serious discussion going on,'' he said this week. ''I talked to Steve Spurrier about it a couple of different times. There was a lot of discussion about moving the FSU game to early in the year. If they (Seminoles) would do that, they (Gators) would be willing to move our game later.

''Obviously, he (Spurrier) is not there to push that any longer. I don't know if FSU would ever move that game. Maybe they would, maybe they wouldn't.''

With a smug grin, Fulmer added: ''I'm just a worker here. I don't make those decisions.''

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