Always considered a rivalry by both fan bases, the Georgia Bulldogs and Tennessee Volunteers are become a more heated tilt in recent years. The magic growth potion was added in 1992 when the conference split into two divisions. Now the teams meet every year vying for the east division crown. It happened that when the split was made the two teams in the best position to challenge were Florida and Tennessee. With the first 10 eastern division championships going to one school or the other, a heated rivalry developed. Since 2002, Georgia has won the east five times, tying the Vols for number of trips to the championship game. Also, since 1992, Tennessee leads the series 13-11.

Even closer is the overall series, Tennessee 22-21. 

Volunteer football relevant again

In 2008, Tennessee fired long-time Football coach Phil Fulmer. He left Knoxville with five appearances in the SEC championship game, two SEC titles and a national championship. Over his last few years, some boosters and fans felt he had let the program slip. In 2008 that element talked the administration into replacing the coach and his staff with someone new.

While the plan looked good on paper, the new coach didn't have enough loyalty to the program to resist a move to USC when they called one year later. As a result Tennessee wound up having four different coaching staffs -- with very different philosophies -- in a four year period. This translated to five losing seasons in six years. Butch Jones has brought stability back to the program. He also repaired some damaged relationships and the Vols are recruiting like they did in Fulmer's hey day again.

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Georgia football change without change

The Bulldogs aren't coming from the darkness that U.T. found its self in after Fulmer. Their recruiting hasn't taken any hits what-so-ever as the coaching transition was as seamless as you will see in modern football. In 2016, the Bulldogs recruiting class ranked #5 nationally. This with a change in the coaching staff. In addition, their previous two classes were #6 and #9 respectively.

So it is safe to conclude the Bulldogs are one of the most talented teams in the nation. 

Bulldogs vs Volunteers, why now?

So, whats the big deal now? Georgia and Tennessee have played for the past 100 years. True, but they just started playing every year in 1992. The rivalry is going to heat up even more now for the same reasons Tennessee -- Florida heated up so much in the 1990's. Now, this is becoming the game that knocks one of the two out of the SEC title game. In addition, Tennessee has been poaching talent from Georgia for years.

While there is no way to stop that from happening -- too many for Georgia to get them all -- its the four and five star guys that are coming into play more often. Guys both schools specifically want rather than what is left after UGA gets theirs.

Both schools recruit players from Florida but so does every one else. Both schools play Florida every year and are rivals. However, it is the expectation that these two schools are going to get a strangle hold on the SEC east. As this evolves the debate will become more heated between fan bases.

Thus, the rivalry heats up more every year.

All of this is predicated on the Dawgs and Vols edging Florida out of the SEC east championship more often as time goes. Based on the two coaching staffs it is my opinion that is going to be the case. Don't get me wrong, Florida will still get one now and again. But the Florida stranglehold is being broken. The SEC east will once again ascend to the heights of the college football world enjoyed by the SEC west.  

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