It happened in 1998.
Before Saturday, that was the only year it's happened since the SEC split up into East and West divisions in 1992 - also the first year Phillip Fulmer ever stood on the sidelines as Tennessee's man-in-charge.
With a 17-13 win over Alabama, it just happened again.
UT now owns bragging rights over its three biggest rivals.
The Vols have now officially responded to the preseason trash-talking coming from Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
Their first response came under clear skies in mid-September with James Wilhoit's 50-yard game-winning kick. That kick was the beginning of the end for Florida's season and Ron Zook's job.
The next response came between the hedges in Athens, Ga. Tennessee stopped the barking for a day by ending Georgia's reign atop the SEC East. The Bulldog students looked like they were at a funeral that day.
In Georgia terms, "We just stepped on their face with hobnail boot and broke their nose!"
Then came last Saturday. Alabama fans and attorneys had called Fulmer a "rat."
Now Fulmer can simply point to Saturday's game in Neyland Stadium and come up with only one appropriate title for everybody associated with the Crimson Tide: "Losers."
Regardless of where the Vols end up at the end of the year, the 2004 season is officially a success.
And Fulmer is simply becoming a rival-basher.
The 13th-year coach is now 10-2 against Alabama and 9-4 against Georgia.
Although he's only 5-8 against Florida, he has won three out of the last four and has helped cause Gator fans to lose faith in their coach.
However, Zook's firing on Monday could give Gator fans exactly what they want next year: Steve Spurrier.
But that's OK.
If memory serves me right, Fulmer beat Spurrier last time out. In the Swamp, too.
Since then, the only success Spurrier has seen has come on a North Carolina golf course.
Go ahead and invite him back, Florida. Go ahead and come back, Visor Boy.
Go ahead and resume your barking, Bulldog fans.
Go ahead and file some more lawsuits, 'Bama lawyers. Go ahead and call Fulmer a weasel, Tide fans.
It seems the UT players have a knack for responding.
Now the Vols must respond to their only loss of the season by temporarily making Auburn their top rival. As long as Tennessee takes care of business at South Carolina on Saturday, and as long as they put on their uniforms to play Vanderbilt and Kentucky in a few weeks, the Vols will get a rematch against the Tigers in the SEC Championship (assuming Auburn wins one more SEC game).
"Mark it down, we will see them again," UT co-captain linebacker Kevin Burnett said as he stormed out of the press room following the 34-10 home loss to Auburn on Oct. 2 - moments after he said his team was better than Auburn.
At the time, I laughed at the Vols' poster boy. Now, I'm in awe of his confidence.
Last time the Vols were able to beat its top three rivals and Auburn, the outcome of the season was a national championship.
The latter could prove impossible this year.
But by taking out the trash against Florida, Georgia and Alabama - at least for the time being - UT's ultimate goal has not changed.
- Matt Giles is the sports editor of The Daily Beacon and a senior in journalism. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wins over rivals often lead to successful years for Vols
Published: Tue Oct 26, 2004 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 06:30 p.m.