From One of Their Own...
First off, let me say some stuff: I am currently a student at the University of Tennessee. This is my third football season here, and in the previous two years I've missed one home game (Kentucky 2006 because it was on Thanksgiving weekend) and been to five away games. I was in Athens in 2006. I witnessed the embarrassments at Florida and at Alabama last year. I saw the heartbreak of letting and SEC title slip away in ATL last December.[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="Proof I witnessed the beatdown in Gainesville last year (more on that trip Friday. I also saw the one in Tuscaloosa and the heartbreak in Atlanta..."][/caption]
So going back to last April, when The Daily Beacon broke the story (yes, it was their one occasion of actually printing new news) that students were going to have to begin to pay for football tickets, I hardly cared. I had spent probably close to over $300 on the three trips (hint: getting tickets from my dad and staying with people you know helps), what was $90 more?
The rest of my fellow students didn't take the news so well. There was Facebook group that got up to 7,000 members in anger of what Mike Hamilton was doing. There were threats of boycotts of the UAB game, and a rally at the Orange & White Game, a rally that never occurred.
Personally, I got a kick out of watching everyone get so pissed off. I was actually happy in a way, because having to pay for tickets would get some of the people who don't care enough anyways (dead weight, if you will) out of Neyland Stadium. It's nowhere near impossible to save $90: like, say, spending less money on alcohol and the "going out" that I generally hardly ever take part in. Not only that, but I knew what getting tickets post-graduation was like, and we still have it pretty easy.
What does this have to do with anything? Well let me be blunt: on the whole, our students suck. Yes, I think we get pretty loud (the "F*** You Bama" chant in '06 was pretty good too) and I thoroughly enjoy sitting in the student section on Saturdays, have always enjoyed it, and will continue doing so. That's about it.
It started with the whole unnecessary uproar over paying for tickets, the people who either show up late/leave at halftime, and the clingy couples who exhibit more PDA than interest in the actual game, and continued with this weekend's nonsense. First, the booing - which unless my hearing is deteriorating (it's not, that's my sight) - began in the student section. After two incomplete passes and an interception.
I'm pretty adamant about this: NEVER BOO THE HOME TEAM. Not the players. The coaches I'll give some leeway on, but never the players. Did Luke Stocker deserve to be booed after his drops? Probably. Does Jonathan Crompton's play deserve the boos he got? Maybe. Still, there's no reason for that - from the students, from anybody. I can't count how many times Erik Ainge was cussed out last year around me - and we were undefeated at home!
Our moronic students need to be more aware that recruits on official visits come in and see that, and it's duly-noted. Who wants to go where if they potentially screw up get booed? By their fellow students? Especially this week, when our recruit list is pretty phenomenal - not just limiting it to football recruits either. This is a big weekend for Bruce Pearl as well.
Then there's the above picture, taken by my dad from his seats in XX3. Notice this is at the time the "T" is opening up. From D, I had no idea that was even there. It's pathetic. Yes, it was UAB. Yes, it was a 12:30 game. Yes, it was on TV. Yes, it was really freaking hot. Yes, we lost to UCLA. Say what you want, give your excuses, whatever. That's just awful and there's no other way around it. I showed the picture to my friends later that night and they felt the same way.
I know attendance on the whole was pretty bad, but the last place I honestly would expect to see a decline in attendance would be the students. Out-of-towners, yes. Students, no. I know there are actually people here that came to UT and the whole football scene didn't factor into their decision. Seriously, though, how hard is it?
You don't have to live and die with every play. You don't even have to know what the hell is going on. You don't even have to know what a UAB is or name a Tennessee starter. Treat it like a social event for all I care (those types need to go in the upper deck, though). It's not hard, and most of the time the games are pretty enjoyable - especially any win.
The main point of my post is this: from this point on, I won't be defending the students when the awful attendance and not picking up 1,500 of the allotment or anything else gets criticized. I know it's not everyone and there are plenty of true fans on this campus, but I'm done. And with all that done and said...
HERE'S TO THE STUDENTS AND ALL VOL FANS PULLING TOGETHER FOR SATURDAY - NEYLAND NEEDS TO BE ROCKING!!
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