Time continues to heal all wounds.
If it's true that the opposite of love isn't hate, but indifference, then some flame still burns for both of these men. It's been my experience that in the worst break-ups, the last thing that goes is a reason to care. Even when there's no hope or desire for reconciliation, it's those last ideas we hold on to: "If I could just get an apology,"..."If they would just admit they were wrong,"..."If this one thing would happen, then I could really move on."
For Tennessee and Lane Kiffin, indifference is somewhere off in the distance. I'm not sure what it would take for us to get there - beating Southern Cal head-to-head, winning a championship with Derek Dooley while the Trojans struggled through their scholarship reductions, or maybe just the eventual end of Kiffin's time in Los Angeles. But one day no one in Knoxville will care what Lane Kiffin is up to...and I hope that day is coming soon.
It's not at all that Tennessee fans are indifferent to Steve Spurrier, it's that the relationship changed. While no one was a better Vol Villain than Spurrier from 1993-97, the Vols were able to get the closure with the ballcoach we never could with Kiffin. Not just beating Florida, but winning the National Championship in 1998 killed almost every demon - in fact, I would argue we enjoyed winning the title in '98 more, or at least in unique fashion, because we had suffered for so long against the mighty Gators. And when Spurrier traded blowouts for heartbreak via Alex Brown and Jabar Gaffney in 1999 and 2000, the Vols got the last and most meaningful word in 2001.
Spurrier is the best kind of villain: the one who keeps it interesting, the one who demands your respect with his actions but makes you hate giving it up with his words. And as in any truly great rivalry, the one that beats you enough to make you care...which then makes it all the better when you beat him.
All of this makes that picture up there interesting: Tennessee victorious over Spurrier with Kiffin on our sideline leading troops dressed in black. The whole thing laughs at the history of the Vols and the OBC.
Maybe we'll cross from hatred to indifference with Kiffin soon. Maybe South Carolina will stay on top while the Vols climb the ladder again, and we'll open new wounds in our rivalry with Spurrier. But the final answer to today's poll really comes down to this: is a betrayal after one year really worth more than a decade-long battle that brought out the best in both of us?
Who is the greatest Vol Villain?
Steve Spurrier (195 votes)
Lane Kiffin (161 votes)
356 total votes