KNOXVILLE -- Not Alabama. Not Florida.

Georgia, according to first-year Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin, should be the Volunteers' biggest rival.

That's why Kiffin called UT's 45-19 home win over Georgia on Saturday "really powerful" for a variety of reasons, but mostly for the future of his tenure.

"I don't know all the Tennessee history and tradition with all the matchups, nor do I ever intend do," Kiffin said. "There's a lot of great teams in this conference, but I told (players) that, to me, this is the biggest matchup. To me, because of what we need to do in recruiting, this will be the biggest matchup for this staff and for our team.

"So this was a great win for us."

Kiffin reportedly told his Vols that it won't be the last victory in the series.

"Coach Kiffin made a big emphasis on beating these guys," said UT junior All-America safety Eric Berry, a former Atlanta-area high school star. "He actually made a promise to us that we would never lose to them anymore, ever, until he leaves.

"Whatever happens, he said he wasn't going to let Georgia beat us."

Most of UT's best players have come from outside the state, and many of them have come from Georgia. Tailback Jamal Lewis, offensive lineman Cosey Coleman and safety Deon Grant played large roles on the 1998 national championship team, though Lewis's season ended prematurely with a torn ACL.

Stars from various eras have left Georgia for the Vols -- players such as Chip Kell, Willie Gault, Bill Mayo and Chuck Smith -- and so have a host of important role players.

Berry and left offensive tackle Chris Scott, also from the Atlanta area, are two of the team's best upperclassmen NFL draft prospects.

UT plucked tailback Toney Williams, linebacker Robert Nelson and highly prized safety Darren Myles Jr. from Georgia in last year's signing class, and the Vols have shots at several current Peach State high school stars.

Twelve current Vols played high school football in Georgia.

Scott said Saturday "most definitely" sent a message to the Bulldogs.

"They know they've got to strap their helmets tight, because it's coming hard," he said.

And not just in October, Scott added.

"I think it's pretty big (for recruiting)," Scott said. "Georgia is a pretty big pipeline. This staff that Coach Kiffin put together, I think they're going to do well."

Kiffin said he and several of his assistants were going to be on the road recruiting through UT's bye week, starting this morning.

"We'll have our maximum number of (coaches) out on the road," Kiffin said. "We'll be out everywhere, and we're going to go find the best players in the country."

Other contacts for Wes Rucker are and

Next Article

Florida beats LSU 13-3

Previous Article

Crompton romp