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Revisiting The Rivalry: The 1990 and 1991 Florida-Tennessee games

Every rivalry has a flash point; Ruth from Boston to New York, Chuck Bednarik hitting Frank Gifford with a clothesline, Rocket Richard breaking Hal Laycoe's face with his stick. While in the history of sport, Red Sox-Yankees, Eagles-Giants, and Canadians-Bruins are more significant, they all began with an historic act that reverberates to this day. Just like Florida-Tennessee.

Prior to divisional play, UF and Tennessee played home-and-home series. Included in this were the 1990 and 1991 games. In Spurrier's first Tennessee game as head coach in 1990, the Gators were manhandled 45-3 in Knoxville. This was the only SEC blemish, as the Gators were 6-1 and won a mythical "First In The SEC" title.

Following that game rumors spread, which persist to this day, that Tennessee fans had chants referencing the Gainesville student murders. In fact, the idea of Tennessee fans doing this led some at the 1991 game to bring even more hatred. But, there is no documentation of this chant and everything is second hand from people at the 1991 game in Gainesville. So is it an urban myth?  I asked the expert, former FTC commissioner and writer of EDSBS, Orson Swindle if this was true.

I've heard it, too, but have nothing specific to even come close to backing it up as hearsay. I think it's the Tennessee equivalent of Alabama's claim that Florida fans cheered when Tyrone Prothro's foot fell off in Tuscaloosa. It's delirious rumor, as far as I know.
ps. I emphasize: this is unsubstantiated crap.

Heading into the 1991 game, Florida was eligible for an SEC title and was 4-1 (lost to Syracuse). That, combined with the nature of the blowout the previous year, led to a highly anticipated in Gainesville. Since I was seven years old at the time, I'll let 1993 UF alum Alan W. explain.

So, when the 1991 Tennessee game in The Swamp rolled around, it was electric.  Gator fans (and not just students) were VERY loud and merciless to the Tennessee fans and players. The students hurled a sea of orange plastic cups towards the Tennessee bench, and it was so loud that many of the players from both teams had to cover the earholes in the helmets.  There is a great quote from one of the UF offensive lineman who was on the sidelines at the time; he said it was so loud his head was throbbing, and that it was the loudest he ever heard The Swamp before or since.

Tomorrow, the 1994-1997 games.