Jan. 27, 2009
The phrase "Tennessee-Florida" brings to mind several emotions in the minds of Vol and Gator fans alike. Whether an image of a missed field goal in a memorable football season, or a vision of Pat Summitt- dressed as a cheerleader and bursting into a chorus of Rocky Top at a men's basketball game, the rivalry is sure to conjure up some vivid memory. The pressure and intensity of this rivalry is not wasted in the heated men's swimming and diving match-up. Coming off a big SEC win against Georgia, the Vols will head to Gainesville Friday for a 2 p.m. dual-meet with Florida.
"The competitiveness between these two teams goes back to the 1960's," head coach John Trembley said. "Florida is our traditional rival in the Southeastern Conference."
The rivalry has been marked by streaks- the Vols upset win in Knoxville last season ended a five-meet tear for the Gators, and dates back to 1936. Florida won the first four meetings but only won three during Ray Bussard's tenure as UT's head coach from 1968-1988. Coach Trembley holds a 14-7 record against Florida and is 4-5 in Gainesville.
Fourth-ranked Tennessee boasts a 5-2 overall record and is 2-0 in the SEC. The Big Orange has wins over University of the Cumberlands, Louisville and Virginia at home and dominated the Tennessee Invitational against Kentucky and Virginia Tech. UT is 1-2 on the road this season with a win at Kentucky and a pair of losses to Indiana and Michigan at a triple dual-meet in Bloomington, Ind. On Jan. 24, UT dominated a home dual-meet against the Georgia Bulldogs to earn their second SEC win.
Tennessee last won in Gainesville during the 2001-02 season and won last year's meet in Knoxville. The Vols' 20 wins over the Gators is third-most all-time over an opponent and second against SEC foes.
The Gators will face UT after losing a tough meet at Auburn (166-132) Jan. 24. The Tigers handed Florida their second loss of the season with the first coming in the season opener at Michigan. Tenth-ranked Florida has six wins on the season over LSU, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida State, Virginia and Florida Atlantic.
Friday's meet is Tennessee's last regular-season meet of the year. The SEC Championship follows Florida on UT's schedule. This year Auburn will host the championship meet from Feb. 18-21.