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Years later, head ball coach still makes Vols bristle

A random fan survey Saturday indicated Steve Spurrier remains reviled by many Vols fans
 
Vols fan Ron Gilman (right of Blountville, Tenn., said Steve Spurrier remains the coach many Vols fans still love to hate. (JOEY KNIGHT | Times)
Vols fan Ron Gilman (right of Blountville, Tenn., said Steve Spurrier remains the coach many Vols fans still love to hate. (JOEY KNIGHT | Times)
Published Sept. 22, 2018

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The head ball coach remains the most reviled Gators figure in Knoxville, according to a random fan poll conducted Saturday afternoon outside Neyland Stadium.

But one of the runners-up may surprise you. Like the head ball coach, he flung some shade toward the Vols a time or two.

But unlike Spurrier, he failed to back it up.

Yep, Jalen Tabor's arrogance and sound bites from two seasons ago remain vivid in Vols fans' minds.

"He ran his mouth," longtime UT fan Mark Markham said.

Markham was among more than 30 Vols fans polled in the tailgate areas outside the stadium a few hours before kickoff. Tabor generated more votes than Tim Tebow  or Urban Meyer (neither of whom lost to UT), possibly because the freshness hasn't quite worn off the outspoken cornerback's comments.

In the summer of 2016, he spoke extensively of what was then an 11-game Gators win streak against UT, and boasted of extending it to 12.

Then, he surrendered a 67-yard touchdown pass as the Vols scored 38 unanswered points in a 38-28 victory in Knoxville that September.

"He ran his (expletive) mouth, then he got his ankles broken," said one Vols fan who asked not to be identified.

Yet for all his misguided brashness, Tabor couldn't slip past Spurrier — who defeated Tennessee eight out of 12 times as Gators coach and five out of 10 at South Carolina — on the Vols' resent-o-meter.

"Great coach," said Ron Gilman, an advocate for child-abuse victims bedecked in shoulder pads, an orange-and-black top hat, and white face paint. "But you gotta hate the great ones."

Most Hated Gator
(No. of votes in parentheses)
Steve Spurrier: 9
Jalen Tabor: 6
Urban Meyer: 5
Tim Tebow: 2
Ron Zook: 2
No one: 2
Antonio Callaway: 1
Jeff Driskell: 1
Feleipe Franks: 1
Will Grier: 1
Ike Hilliard: 1
Chris Leak: 1
Will Muschamp: 1
Sal Sunseri: 1