The biggest story by far leading up to this past weekend’s college football games was the impending beatdown of Tennessee by Florida. It was the game that was going to expose Lane Kiffin as a spoiled, inept brat and cement Tim Tebow’s second Heisman. Urban Meyer, master coach and motivator, would have his Gators so fired up to crush Tennessee that the only concern for the Gators was whether they could fit triple digits on the scoreboard.
Only, um, that never happened. Florida gritted out a rather sloppy 23-13 victory over the Vols that failed to live up to the media’s hype. Kiffin himself was the orchestrator of much of the hype, and quite a few postgame stories fed into that, undeservedly praising him for reigning in the defending national champs and the Football Messiah. Undeservedly? Yeah, turns out that the biggest opponent the Gators might have faced last week wasn’t Kiffykins, but the ever-looming Swine Flu.
Three key Gators were under the weather during Saturday’s game with flu-like symptoms. Doctors don’t know for sure yet if it’s the dreaded H1N1 strain of influenza, but with a swine flu outbreak sweeping across UF’s Gainesville campus, it wouldn’t come as a surprise. Urban Meyer says there’s a “level of panic” that’s unprecedented, and he’s not taking this flu stuff any more lightly than he takes D-1AA nonconference opponents.
Three marquee starters — running back Jeff Demps, tight end Aaron Hernandez and defensive end Jermaine Cunningham — played in Saturday’s 23-13 win over Tennessee with flu-like symptoms. Demps started the game with a 101-degree fever and probably shouldn’t have played, Coach Urban Meyer said.
All three players left Sunday’s practice with helmets in hand, appearing to have practiced. They haven’t been diagnosed with the H1N1 virus — the flu strain commonly referred to as Swine Flu — but Meyer is on edge about keeping his top-ranked team healthy.
Playing in a rivalry football game with a 101-degree fever is pretty badass, but there’s no way he was in top shape. In fact, if the coaching and medical staff was aware of his fever, it’s kind of remarkable/stupid/impressive (depending on your views) that he was allowed to play at all. Apparently, Florida players (possibly) suffering from the worldwide influenza pandemic are still better than Tennessee. Don’t go submitting that Genius Grant application just yet, Lane.