@BRIAN GILLESPIE

As I sat and watched the hellacious performance from the "fire-hot sunshine
seats," as Florida correctly names them, all I could think about was how my
hopes for a defeat of Florida and a national championship had been dashed
yet again. From my point of view, which was similar to the view of the
Budweiser blimp, I could see every single Gator chomp, and I was aghast.

How could my Volunteers have lost the most important game of the season,
again? Well, it's simple -- we were beaten by a better team on
Saturday. It was only our third game of the year and already our season was
over -- another wasted year of football. Then I thought, "Hold on a minute
--when did this game become our lifeblood?"

Believe it or not, life isn't over, the season isn't over, and we still
have a chance to make a lot of waves this season. We even have a remote
chance at the national title.

Has everyone forgotten about last season, barring the Memphis loss, when we
could have possibly played for the national title?

Doesn't Florida still play Florida State? Penn State still has to play
Michigan and Ohio State. Nebraska still plays Colorado and Kansas State. I
could go on and on.

Obviously there are many possible scenarios which could influence
Tennessee's position in the national opinion polls. We still have to battle
Alabama and Georgia, but we know those teams' weaknesses and can compound
upon their mistakes.

Why, then, is there constant talk of our "semi-permanent Citrus Bowl
status" again? Who knows -- we could actually end up in the Orange Bowl for
another bout against Florida.

While the Big Ten leads the country in undefeated teams with Michigan
State, Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State, they aren't really a threat to
us because each will fall at least once to one of their (elated!) rivals.

The Atlantic Coast Conference may have FSU and North Carolina, but their
rivalry is much like the teams of the Big Ten -- a heated struggle, but
someone has to lose -- so one of those schools will no longer have an
unblemished record. Clemson also lurks in the ACC's wings to possibly put
an end to the Tar Heels' spotless record.

Our bid for a national championship will take a lot of fervent wishing and
odd coincidences, but stranger things have happened before. Don't give up
all hope yet on the Vols playing in Miami on Jan. 2.

For Peyton Manning and Leonard Little's sakes, I hope we get another chance
at the title -- they truly deserve it for staying in school.