GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It pains me to say that Lane Kiffin, the rockhead of Rocky Top, won the grudge match. He and Tennessee may have lost the football game, 23-13, but by limiting Florida's freakishly potent offense to 323 yards and forcing two rare turnovers from The Perfect Human Being (Tim Tebow), Kiffin didn't suffer nearly as much as he should have after the punkish cheap shots and low-class accusations he directed at Urban Meyer and the country's pre-eminent college program.
He was supposed to be road kill Saturday, a coaching pinata. Instead, he was wielding the stick again, irritating and even scaring Florida folks who were left to half-heartedly sing at the end, "Rocky Top, you'll always be, second in the SEC.'' No, this was not the party music that anyone had in mind, and when it was over, Kiffin left town with his limbs intact and a content look on his boyish, Dennis the Menace face. He even received a brief post-game handshake at midfield from Meyer, which was more a reflection of his rival's professionalism and dignity than any respect he might have gained for Kiffin.