Is it in South Carolina's best interest to have a somewhat stronger Tennessee? Ahead of the Bulldogs' visit to Neyland, Michael at Braves and Birds is rethinking his take on the Kiffin regime in Knoxville. Perhaps spurred on by the AJC's Mark Bradley, he fears Kiffin can recruit well enough to potentially unseat Georgia in the East. I disagree, but I think there are reasons Carolina fans should not be disheartened by a small scale Volunteer revival.
A moderately stronger Tennessee that poaches talent from Georgia could be good for South Carolina, provided our staff continues our recent strong recruiting. I believe Spurrier is a slightly better coach than Richt, and I think both are much better than Kiffin. Anything that takes talent away from Richt and gives it to Kiffin is probably a good thing for South Carolina in the long run. As frightening as Eric Berry is, he would be much scarier in Athens than patrolling the defensive backfield for Tennessee.
The danger of Kiffin accumulating too much talent and turning the Vols into a monster is greatly exaggerated. Phil Fulmer was long known as a great recruiter and an average game day coach with one of the best DC's in the country. His greatest five year run coincided with the arrival of an SEC legend at the most important position on the field.
Kiffin seems to be a great recruiter and an average at best game day coach with one of the best DC's in the NFL. Unless you think he is going to bring in another Peyton Manning, his ceiling is likely the same as Fulmer's this decade: eight or nine wins with high side variance to ten and low side to six.
Before Kiffin can do that, he will have to navigate 2009, when the Vols could potentially miss a bowl game again; and 2010, when the program returns substantially fewer starters than Carolina, Florida, and Georgia. As long as Carolina can get a couple wins over the Vols this year and next, our coaches should be able to maintain recruiting classes in the 8-15 range. If so, there's no reason South Carolina should not benefit from Tennessee siphoning off Peach State talent.