Posts Tagged ‘Mike DuBose’

Flashback: The Great Games — Florida 1998

Flashback | Gate 21


The Great Games | Gate21.net

19 September 1998

Florida Football vs. Tennessee Football

(2) Florida 17(6) Tennessee 20

Neyland Stadium


Due to exceptionally bad planning on my part, I graduated from the University of Tennessee in four years — making my trip across the stage to collect my diploma in May of 1998…

Graduation

Cartoon Courtesy of the Detroit News

I say it was bad planning because, as fate would have it — after traveling across the country with the Pride of the Southland for four years, following the Vols to every game — when Tennessee’s 1998 “season of destiny” rolled around, I was living more than six hours away in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I was a student at Tarhead State (UNC) engaged in my “Trade School” studies (I call law school that mainly to annoy all the Tarhead grads who infest the area where I now live) and quite far removed from my passion for Tennessee Volunteers Football.

Thus was my lot…

For what it is worth, I blame all of this on Joel at Rocky Top Talk since, as he and I both realized a few months back, he was my “teacher” in a crib-course on how to do well on law school entrance exams, and thus Joel is totally responsible for my entry into this sordid profession and my departure from East Tennessee exactly one year too early (This all makes perfect, well-reasoned, and orderly sense in my mind, in much the same way that Alabama coach Mike DuBose ultimately concluded that “Jesus wanted us to lose to Tennessee”).

Anyway, Tennessee opened the season versus the Syracuse Orangemen, and managed to hang on to victory by the absolute narrowest of margins — namely, Jeff Hall’s foot. The Gators, on the other hand, had beaten the living hell out of some school whose name eludes me, but I am sure it has “North“, “South“, “Central” “Left“, “Up“, or “Sideways” in its name.

After the 34 to 33 victory in the Syracuse game, I was somewhat less than hopeful about the Vols chances of winning against “Lord Spurrier and his Reptile Renegades.”

Nevertheless, given my incurable and uncontrollable addiction to traveling great distances, at considerable expense, to have your dreams crushed and your soul scarred, I climbed in my Volkswagen and headed back toward Knoxville for the showdown between the Florida Gators and the Vols. This was the first time I drove from Eastern North Carolina to Tennessee for a football game — it was a new experience. Now, however, I have made this journey so many times that I have all but memorized every single exit along Interstate 40 between the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area and Knoxville, and now I can (and on occasion do) drive it while sleeping.

As you might imagine, when I arrived in the Volunteer City, I didn’t have a ticket. After searching up and down Cumberland Avenue for an hour-or-two, I finally managed to find a single ticket, in return for all of the remaining money I had to eat on for the rest of my first semester of law school (making sure not to repeat my 1992 mistake of buying student tickets).

Left to Right: My Ticket to the 1998 game • My friend’s ticket to the same game • My infamous student ticket from the 1992 game when I wasn’t yet a student

Despite the fact that my ticket told me that my butt was supposed to be planted in Section ZZ15 in the North Endzone Upperdeck, I chose Row 18 of Section D — the heart of the student section — as my vantage point for the game, since all of my friends were on the “5-year plan” (or 6, or 7, or …) and that is where they were situated. Considering that there were somewhere between 250 and 5,000 people crammed into that row, and each of those around it, apparently I wasn’t the only one bending the rules — or the bleachers on which we all stood, until they finally gave way and broke off of the concrete risers in the 4th-quarter.

The contest opened with the Challenger,” the bald eagle soaring his way down from the North endzone across the Pride of the Southland during the National Anthem. How exactly that beautiful bird could find where he was supposed to go amidst the screaming of nearly 108,000 fans with flashbulbs turning the stands into a bank of strobe lights, is beyond me. What a way to start a hot and steamy fistfight.

And boy was it hot and steamy that night…

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