In an article entitled "Gators have Kiffin in their Sights" posted today on ESPN.com, Chris Low quotes several Florida players admitting that the head man's recent comments about their program have made him such a target that several posters of Kiffin are displayed in the Gator locker room.
Although they won national championships in 2006 and 2008, the Gators do not appear to have won the respect of Tennessee's new boss. In fact, he seems determined to rile them at every opportunity.
In case anyone has forgotten, here's a brief recap of the verbal jabs he has taken to date:
- Dec. 1, the day he was introduced, Kiffin joked that he wants to embrace Tennessee's traditions, such as "singing Rocky Top all night long after we beat Florida next year."
- He was at it again on National Signing Day, bragging a bit about turning two of Florida's recruits – Marsalis Teague and Nu'Keese Richardson.
- Kiffin stepped it up several notches a day later, saying Meyer "cheated" by telephoning Richardson while he was visiting UT. The fact Meyer's action did not constitute an NCAA violation elevated Kiffin to poster-boy status in the Florida locker room.
Asked following Tuesday's Vol practice for his thoughts on making another headline on ESPN.com, Kiffin smugly replied:
"I don't know. I didn't read anything, so I don't know what the headline was. Hopefully, it was a good headline."
When pressed about the posters of himself in the Florida locker room, however, Kiffin eagerly took the bait. And, in the process, he got in a few more digs at the Gators.
"The fact our logo's in their locker room and recruits are seeing it is a pretty powerful thing," he said, snidely adding: "Their logo WON'T be in our locker room."
After beating Tennessee by scores of 16-7 and 21-20 in his first two years, Meyer has flogged the Vols 59-20 and 30-6 the past two years. Most UT fans assume another butt-kicking awaits this September in Gainesville, so the fact the game is making headlines on ESPN.com six months in advance is pretty amazing.
Kiffin, refreshingly candid on most occasions, resorted to some uncharacteristic coach-speak when asked about the ongoing Vol-Gator flap.
"We're not thinking about that game or worried about that game," he said. "We're trying to have one good practice. Today one side of the ball (defense) did. We've got to get our guys better.
"That game's a long ways down the road. I believe we play two teams before that."