Over the last few weeks, a few people have approached me with the same silly sentiment: that Urban Meyer vs. Nick Saban is now the best coaching rivalry in not just college football – but in all of sports.
Since the thought was tossed in my direction more than once, I decided to put some thought into it – but no longer than Saban spent time in the National Football League.
After that thought passed, my answer to the question was simple: NO WAY.
Listen, it’s no secret that the Florida Gators and Alabama Crimson Tide have managed to distance themselves not just from the SEC’s elite – but to all of college football over the last few seasons.
It’s far the opposite actually – because after all, Saban is only entering his fourth season as the head coach at ‘Bama, while Meyer is potentially entering his sixth season with the Gators – depending on who you ask regarding the status of his health.
In fact, the only thing that indicates that this is a legitimate rivalry is the simple and cookie cutter dictionary definition of the term “rivalry”… but that’s all.
Let’s not beg like a dog for it, desperately seeking college football’s new treat – that being a rivalry that mimics that of the Patriots and the Colts in the pros.
Heck, these two teams didn’t even face themselves during the regular season last year (like the Pats and Colts religiously do), but instead just the last two conference championships.
Seriously, aside from that – where’s the fire, people?
Rivalries have fire.
I want passion and fire – not just something fueled by trying to fight for one significant victory for the football program.
I want something that’s sparked into a rivalry – say in the form of Lane Kiffin and Urban Meyer, which – thanks to Kiffin’s big fat mouth – found itself being a much bigger rivalry in the one short season that Lane spent at Tennessee.
Aside from Florida and Tennessee, look at Ohio State and Michigan – a rivalry that has been brewing pure hatred for not just a few years, but many, many decades.
Now that’s rivalry, my friends.
Or look at USC and UCLA – which saw a fiery spark generated by Pete Carroll and Rick Neuheisel last season – to the point that the players were on the field starting up an old-fashioned southern California-flavored scrum.
But just because two teams like Alabama and Florida reach the top of the football polls, doesn’t make it a major rivalry – let alone the biggest in sports.
Just because two elite players for each school does battle for the Heisman Trophy (Tim Tebow with Florida and Mark Ingram with Alabama) doesn’t make it an elite rivalry, either.
Rivalries don’t immediately flourish with the planting of one little seed – but instead need time to grow and have its roots make way through the proverbial ground, from a history among the coaches, or some fire generated from the programs… something… anything.
For those that say that Florida and Alabama – as talented and consistent SEC rivals – there is now that elite rivalry in place, I say that’s poppycock.
Stick with Alabama and Auburn… that’s a rivalry.
Focus on Florida and Florida State – that’s a rivalry.
Don’t agree? I’d love to hear why – because I’m open for change, and open to welcome this as the next big rivalry in college sports.
But for now – I simply see the Tide and Gators as a rivalry smokescreen… and ten bucks says no matter what Lane Kiffin could say, he couldn’t develop it into one either.
So welcome back to reality, sports fan – the Tigers and Seminoles are waiting to have their rivals back – so drop the present day dreams and hand ‘em over.