Despite both being in the SEC, a lack of matchups between Florida and Tennessee meant a lack of a rivalry.
By ANTONYA ENGLISH, Times Staff Writer
Published September 17, 2005
GAINESVILLE - Tennessee is arguably the Gators' biggest rival, but that wasn't always the case.
Players from the '60s, '70s and '80s have varying memories of games against the Vols, but none like the national showcase it is today.
For players such as Allen Trammel, who played from 1963-65, it was more like Tennessee who?
"We didn't even play Tennessee," said Trammel, who played alongside Steve Spurrier in 1964 and 1965. "We didn't rotate or play them on a regular basis during that era. We had other teams that we played that were big rivals, but the Tennessee rivalry was not a rivalry."
During Jimmy Fisher's tenure as quarterback from 1974-76, he played the Vols once. But he said the rivalry was special even then because former Florida coach Doug Dickey came from Tennessee as did Fisher's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Jimmy Dunn.
Fisher played against Tennessee at Neyland Stadium during his senior season in 1976, the Gators winning 20-18. "Back in our day, to be frank, we were getting through Florida State and Miami every year," Fisher said. "My sophomore through senior year, we didn't lose (in Gainesville) but Georgia was our nemesis."
Ray McDonald Sr. will sit in the stands tonight and watch his son play in arguably the biggest college game in the nation with pride - and a little envy. When McDonald played from 1982-85, the Vols were much lower on the rivalry totem pole. McDonald's Gator teams played the Vols just twice - his final two seasons. The Gators won both, but the games weren't what they are now.
"They were a rival somewhat," said McDonald, who once graced the cover of Sports Illustrated during his college career. "But back then, it was more Auburn and Georgia. Those were the big ones. Especially, Georgia because they really seemed to have our number back then."