Urban Meyer made a lasting impression on the Tennessee-Florida rivalry. I didn't realize how lasting until I read UT's 2011 media guide.
On Page 205, it lists the schedule for the SEC's Wednesday teleconference with league coaches. Florida coach Urban Meyer is scheduled for 11:20 a.m.
The mistake is understandable. Meyer tormented the Vols to such an extent they probably doubted he would ever leave.
And if he did leave, he would come back like a recurring nightmare.
He teased them after the 2009 season when he announced his resignation. How long did that last? A couple of days? Or was it a couple of minutes?
Then back he came for another season — his worst, in fact. But you couldn't tell it by UT.
Meyer won six consecutive games against the Vols. Not even Steve Spurrier went 6-0 against them.
Meyer had such an impact on the rivalry, the most skeptical UT fans probably aren't convinced he's gone for good. But the rest of the fan base should already be celebrating UT-Florida week.
No offense to new coach Will Muschamp, but he can't possibly be any harder on the Vols. Meyer's teams beat them in every conceivable manner.
There was the 21-20 game in 2006 when Florida came through in the clutch. A year later, Florida came through from start to finish, winning 59-20 before accusing the Vols of quitting — a reasonable charge given the margin of victory.
In 2008, Florida seemingly toyed with the Vols in a 30-6 victory. Last season, the Vols trailed by only four points at half before losing 31-17.
The halftime score at least signified progress. Meyer's resignation signified even more progress. All he can do now is criticize the Vols on TV.
But he's not all that's missing from the rivalry. Check the top-25 rankings. Since the SEC went to divisional play in 1992, the Vols and Gators both have been ranked in the top 10 the week of their game nine times. This week, neither team is close to the top 10 despite 2-0 starts.
The rankings reflect the preseason predictions. At the SEC Football Media Days, the Gators were relegated to third and the Vols to fourth in the SEC East. That was a first.
You don't have to look farther than Tallahassee to notice another change. In the last 20 years, this game often has been the biggest game of the day in college football. This week, it won't even be the biggest game in Florida. On the same day the Vols and Gators play in The Swamp, No. 1 Oklahoma will be taking on No. 5 Florida State in Tallahassee.
UT fans shouldn't be concerned about the game's position on the college marquee. The series' change in status is to UT's advantage.
Just three years ago, the Vols finished 5-7, and the Gators won the national title. The rivalry had become a runaway.
UT has improved since then. And the Gators have fallen from national championship contention to 8-5 in 2010, which brings to mind another significant change.
For the first time in five years — when the Gators rallied for that fourth-quarter victory in 2006 — the Vols have a chance.