Posts Tagged ‘SEC Fans’

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I am sure that many feel his pain -- myself included -- but it makes you wonder: why is it again that we love football so much?

Video: Vol Fan Reacts to Blocked Field Goal


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HT HT / via: Vol Nation

At least he's not too upset over the loss to Alabama...


-- So it goes Email lawvol No McAlisters

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Shoutin Out | Gate 21


On Rocky Top Viagra For Sale, After living through the unmitigated disaster that was the 2008 football season for the Tennessee Volunteers, I was not so sure I was prepared to take a stroll with Clay Travis down memory lane via his new book “On Rocky Top.”  The 2008 season was the most gut-wrenching experience of my sports-watching life, one which Travis himself likened to having your arm amputated without laudanum.  It was truly painful and not merely because the Vols lost seven games.  Losing comes with competition, I can handle losing.  Watching an entire program, an entire fanbase, an entire state devolve into a constant state of turmoil, however, was the part that made it an experience that I was more than ready to forget.  Even  after nine months of good vibrations—buoyed up by the hopes and energy of new Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin and his band of invincibles—assuming that I was prepared to join Travis’ on his retrospective journey through the 2008 season, I wasn’t really sure I wanted to make that trip into the past.

I suppose, I was just ready to move on.

When first I saw that Clay Travis had written a book on the Vols 2008 football campaign, my reaction was that he picked one hell of a bad year to write about Tennessee.  I knew Clay was a fine writer, is Viagra safe, having read his work for CBS Sports.com, Viagra maximum dosage, Fanhouse, and his book Dixieland Delight.  Still, I remember thinking to myself “Man, purchase Viagra, that really stinks for Clay—all that work to write a book about a 5-7 season.” After all, Viagra no prescription, who wants to read about a team that loses, and loses a lot?

You do.

Clay Travis’ new book “On Rocky Top” is one of the best sports books I have read in a long time.


Obviously, Viagra price, “On Rocky Top” focuses on my beloved Vols, Cheap Viagra, which makes me naturally predisposed to read it, I suppose.  It does not, however, Viagra without prescription, make me predisposed to actually like the book.  In fact, Viagra canada, mexico, india, to date, I do not believe I have ever managed to finish a book written exclusively about the Vols—which is a bit ironic coming from a person who publishes a sports blog dedicated to the team—yet, it is the truth.  In my experience most single team memoirs are either so objective that they read more like a surgical note from a neurologist, australia, uk, us, usa, are so “rah-rah” as a result of the writer being blinded by his or her passion for their team to the point that they refuse to acknowledge reality, Viagra pictures, lack any semblance of an understanding of the English language, or are so mind-numbingly focused on minutiae that reading them is like eating sawdust without butter.  Sometimes they are all of the above.

Then there is “On Rocky Top”…

Clay Travis does not try to draft the authoritative history of one of the worst football seasons ever for my alma mater, he does not attempt to give the clichéd insider's look at what goes on behind closed doors at Tennessee, online Viagra without a prescription, he does not simply re-visit and re-hash the events of the 2008 football season for Tennessee.  No, Order Viagra from mexican pharmacy, in “On Rocky Top” Clay Travis describes every season for every fan of every college football program, and he does it beautifully.


Tennessee is but the lens through which Travis explores not only the comings and goings of life in a big-time college football program, but more importantly takes an honest look at sports and fandom from a perspective that is, buy Viagra no prescription, at times, Viagra wiki, as poignant as it is personal.  He explores a side of the world of sports so often relegated to the back of our minds and that small voice of reason drowned by the noise of a screaming crowd in a raucous stadium.


Travis writes:


I want my team to win more than I want anything on earth right now—even though I know how irrational my desire is, how insignificant this game is in the grand scheme of life.  All of us, we fans, taking Viagra, always say that we realize there are things more important than sports.  Yet, Viagra without a prescription, even still, why do we feel the need to make this claim if we don’t, at some times, Viagra results, doubt whether this is actually true?


Deep down in all of our hearts, Where to buy Viagra, we’re all a bit ashamed, frightened even, by how much we care.



Most examinations of fandom tend to focus on the outward evidence of the passion that fills the heart of the fan.  There are a bevy of books that show the all encompassing mania that some fans exhibit: children named after players their parents never met, Viagra street price, cars and houses bedecked in gaudy school colors, Viagra online cod, logos shaved onto heads and mascots tattooed on bodies, and so forth.  Travis avoids these trite expressions of what it means to be a fan—short for “fanatic”—and looks more at the bonds that hold disparate and far-flung groups of individuals with little or nothing in common together as a “family” of fans.  He takes a journey into his own experiences as a fan and as a writer granted access to the inner sanctum of college football.


In the process, Travis does, buy generic Viagra, in fact, Viagra over the counter, chronicle the exploits of the 2008 Vols, and chronicle them well.  Yet he does so through the eyes of a fan, rather than from the dispassionate roost of the pressbox.  In so doing, buy cheap Viagra no rx, he explores the reality that fans judge players and coaches—people they’ve never met—by a set of rules that is irrational, Is Viagra addictive, erratic, and wholly unfair.  Travis takes you inside not only the Vols locker room but inside the lives of the players and coaches—humanizing them is ways that are uncommon in the world of “superstar” athletics and modern sports media.


In particular, he looks at the effects of fan anger and outrage on Tennessee center Josh McNeil, buying Viagra online over the counter, former Vol running back Arian Foster, Effects of Viagra, quarterback Jonathan Crompton, and former coach Phillip Fulmer, among others.  Travis shows how morally unfair the actions of anonymous fans can be when launching faceless attacks.  Talking with Josh McNeil, cheap Viagra no rx, Travis writes:


In the wake of games, After Viagra, fan anger now mixes with player frustration.  Junior center Josh McNeil confesses, “I listen to the radio shows on my way home too.  I listen to the fans.  Sometimes I want to call in and talk with them. I want to say, purchase Viagra for sale, ‘Oh, Viagra dosage, yeah, well, you think I suck, ordering Viagra online. Well, Viagra class, why don’t you come tell me that to my face?  Here’s my address, come meet me here and we’ll talk about it.  Just you and me.’  I wouldn’t ever do it, but I want to.  Sometimes I want to real bad."



Travis’ concludes that oftentimes fans bask in the comfortable anonymity of the stands—noting that no one ever says anything negative to the team on the Vol Walk when they are face-to-face, Viagra duration, saving those barbs for the internet and call-in shows.


Finally, Viagra pics, Travis takes a long look at the end of the Phillip Fulmer era in a way that, again, lifts the objective veil and shows that the players and coaches involved are real people—human beings—and not merely pawns on a chessboard.  He chronicles the measured implosion of Fulmer’s final season, buy Viagra from mexico, the back-room conversations leading to his ouster, Viagra description, and Fulmer’s own post-hoc perspectives on his firing.  Travis’ also details Mike Hamilton’s James Bond-esque “operation” to find the Vols new Head Coach Lane Kiffin.  An excerpt of this is available on FanHouse.


Travis book is a joy to read and beautifully covers the gamut of the sports-fan emotional spectrum.  His insights into college football and fans are sometimes laughably hilarious:


I don’t care how Tennessee wins. … If Jonathan Crompton gets under center, steps back from the line of scrimmage, Viagra no rx, removes his mouthpiece, Where can i find Viagra online, and subsequently shoots Auburn defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks with a poison blow dart, I’m all for it.  Anything to win.



sometimes disturbing:


Arian Foster, seated on the bench, buy Viagra online cod, is approached by a UT fan. Viagra from mexico, … The fan, who is wearing orange from head to foot and appears to be in his thirties, dog-cusses Foster to his back. … Foster does not bat an eyelash, pretending not to notice the fan, and eventually a member of the Georgia security staff leads him away from the fence behind the bench.  It’s come to this—Georgia security guards protecting Tennessee players from their own fans.



and sometimes moving:


My dad came to my house and sat next to me on the couch where I was feeding my 5-month-old son a bottle. … Finally, he turned to me and said, “You know, I read an article in the newspaper the other day about a dad’s funeral.  The son said, ‘We never really talked unless it was about sports.’  That’s really sad, isn’t it?”


My dad put his hand on my shoulder.  I continued to feed Fox.  “Yes,” I said, “that really is.”


We were both silent for a long time.  While Fox drank his bottle my dad smiled at him and occasionally made faces.  Finally my dad spoke again.


“I’m not as optimistic about this year’s team as you are,” he said.


He reached out and grabbed Fox’s bare foot.  “One day we’re going to get this little guy to a game too,” he said.


It occurred to me then that fathers and sons talk about a lot more than sports when we’re talking about sports.  And maybe in the end that’s why most of us are sports fans.



Clay Travis paints a vivid picture of the game and team that I love and follow as a fan.  In a broader sense—without pretension—he provides a wonderful image of what I like to describe as the "beautiful agony" that is college football.


In the end, Clay Travis’ “On Rocky Top is a truly enjoyable book, one which fans of SEC and college football—and definitely all Tennessee fans—should read.


Trust me, you will enjoy the ride.


-- So it goes…About Lawvol






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The Tennesseeum

The Tennesseeum | Gate 21

Note: The Tennesseeum is in its infancy, but I hope to eventually develop it into a virtual museum (hence “Tennessee-um”) of rosters, images, articles, and records pertaining to the Vols.  For now, however, it is little more than a landing page for current rosters and a few other items of interest.

If you have any content that you think belongs in a virtual museum dedicated to the Vols, feel free to contact me.

football 2009 Football Collection:


football Other Collections:

Tennessee Volunteers The Cumberland Wing:

Dedicated to the sights, sounds and history of that little collection of buildings along Cumberland Avenue known simply as “The Strip

Tennessee Volunteers The Tennessee Home for the Visually Offensive:

A virtual museum of some of the finest Farks (a/k/a “photoshopped”) images from the world of sports that the web has to offer including the following sub-collections:

This virtual museum is under construction.

New Collections Debuting Soon!!

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Buy Modalert Without Prescription, Well, in case you hadn’t heard, Phillip Fulmer (a/k/a “the Great Punkin”) has been selected as the 2009 recipient of the Robert R. Neyland Trophy.  Fulmer will be formally presented the award at the East Tennessee Chapter of the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame awards brunch on Saturday morning.  Fulmer will also be honored on the field prior to the start of this weekend’s Orange and White game.  This award, Modalert used for, Doses Modalert work, named in honor of General Neyland, has been awarded by the Knoxville Quarterback Club for the last 44 years.


This year’s choice has a few people upset, Modalert long term, Purchase Modalert online, or at least scratching their heads a bit.


It is hard to argue with Fulmer deserving the award.  The issue for some folks is the the timing, because now Coach Fulmer will be honored immediately prior to Lane Kiffin’s debut as the head coach of the Volunteers—the same team that Fulmer coached up until the end of last season.  One need look no farther than any of the various Tennessee web forums and blogs to see the proverbial “lines in the sand” being drawn by fans on both sides.


Never afraid to make a public statement when called upon to do so, Modalert coupon, Modalert schedule, the Blackjack General commented on the matter earlier today :


Coach Fulmer has had a tremendous impact on Tennessee.  He's the second-winningest coach in Tennessee history behind General Neyland. It's only fitting that he receives this prestigious award, online buy Modalert without a prescription. Modalert no rx, I hope all Tennessee fans will show up early Saturday to show their appreciation for all he has done for our program, our university and our state.

Lane Kiffin: Commenting on Coach Fulmer being honored prior to the Orange and White Game | GoVols Xtra


Some will say (or already have) that the timing of Fulmer’s selection was intentional—that this was an orchestrated barb at the athletic department (most pointedly at Smiling Mike Hamilton) from Fulmer supporters on the Neyland Trophy committee.  Others will say that the award amounts to little more than incurable homerism on the part of some who refuse to let Coach Fulmer go.  On the other side, my Modalert experience, Modalert overnight, there is the argument that Coach Fulmer was an immensely successful coach and earned the award fairly, and that it is fitting he be receive the award at the first appropriate opportunity—the first year after he leaves Tennessee.  Others still will say that the only reason that some are complaining is because they fired a good coach and they know it.


Either way, buy generic Modalert, Purchase Modalert online, it makes for some high drama…


I for one don’t see what the big deal is either way.  Lane Kiffin had nothing to do with Phillip Fulmer’s ouster.  Phillip Fulmer was a great coach for the Vols and remains a loyal Tennessean—I respect the man for what he has done.  Coach Kiffin has had to deal with much worse, as has Coach Fulmer.  There is no reason in this instance why the orange-clad faithful can’t have their cake and eat it to.


In my opinion, Modalert images, Modalert price, the “controversy” over this is nothing more than a few people with axes to grind on both sides of the fence trying to create a storm for/against Coach Fulmer being honored or for / against Coach Kiffin taking “the greensward of Shields-Watkins Field” for the first time.  What I haven’t heard from anyone is this:


The politicization of this event by “factions” does nothing but dishonor the memory of one person: General Robert R. Neyland.


The Neyland Trophy was created to honor the General’s legacy, Modalert pics, Modalert steet value, and to preserve his mark on the landscape of college football.  To try and turn this award into a circus is, to me, Modalert use, Modalert without a prescription, repugnant.  To anyone that would add fuel to the fire in either direction and not support both Fulmer and Kiffin, I say “shame on you.” It is bad for the fanbase, Modalert brand name, Modalert schedule, it is bad for Tennessee, it is bad for Coach Fulmer, where can i cheapest Modalert online, Modalert photos, and it is bad for Coach Kiffin.  In my opinion it is wrong.


There is no reason that the fans cannot cheer their former coach for winning the Neyland Trophy and then, five minutes later, order Modalert from United States pharmacy, Modalert interactions, cheer their current coach as he brings his team out on to the field.  In the process of doing both, those cheers also honor General Neyland.  I support both Fulmer and Kiffin.  I also support preserving Neyland’s place in the pantheon of the game I love.


More than any of that, herbal Modalert, Online buying Modalert hcl, however, I support Tennessee first and foremost…


It is not about either man, Modalert australia, uk, us, usa, Discount Modalert, it is not about making a statement for or against one coach or the other, it is not about using the event as a bully pulpit.  It is about supporting your team, Modalert alternatives, Comprar en línea Modalert, comprar Modalert baratos, your school, your “family, after Modalert, Modalert results, ” and doing what is right.


So, who do you support?


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The SEC Is Great

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

Cupcake Time Is Over

This weekend marks the first weekend with really a full slate of SEC Football, the best kind of football pretty much ever. Georgia and South Carolina battled last Saturday to give us a little taste, but now it's on. The SEC race begins in earnest this weekend with four games, and two more interesting non-conference matchups just for kicks.

Indeed, it's the best part of being a southern football fan. Those of us fortunate enough to be in Knoxville for the showdown with the Gates (at least we all hope it's fortunate to be there...) will likely be tailgating before. Not only that, but it's felt absolutely magnificent here in Knoxville this week. PERFECT FOOTBALL WEATHER...

For me, tailgating isn't complete without a TV. First, football I care about so much about is just on Saturdays. I want to see how other teams are doing. Second, it's great for getting attention. Honestly, if you don't have a TV, but the folks next to you brought their 48-inch high-def TV with a satellite dish, you're going to watch it. Great ice-breaker - as if being fans of the same team wasn't already enough. That early game is now an SEC game, which makes it that much better.

And after seeing an SEC game in person, there's more SEC football to watch in high-def. So (hopefully) after a win, you can relax and watch other teams kill each other, knowing you've taken care of business - or that your season is going to be a long one. With the lack of a big national game NOT involving an SEC team, much of my focus will be there...


SEC Football | Gate 21 SEC Games

Mississippi State at Georgia Tech: Mississippi State has a chance to redeem themselves for that loss to Louisiana Tech with a win over Georgia Tech in Atlanta. We'll find out how good the State front seven is against the heavy rushing/triple option offense the Jackets have had success with already - they won at Boston College and nearly won at Virginia Tech last week.

Alabama at Arkansas (RayCom, 12:30): The appetizer for the day. Arkansas starts a death run - after the Tide, it's at Texas, Florida at home, then at Auburn. I want to say the Tide runs away with this thing, but I just have a feeling Arkansas will stick around - keep in mind the Tide haven't won at Arkansas since 2002. Either that or Bammer just runs over them with the run game. This will be the first look at the "new" Casey Dick for pretty much everyone who isn't an Arkansas fan.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="162" caption="Those of us tailgating before the Florida game will most likely be watching Alabama-Arkansas, our first real look at the Razorbacks"][/caption]

Florida at Tennessee (CBS, 3:30): I'm going to wait til tomorrow to really go into my feelings on this game, but I will say this now (and probably again tomorrow): NOBODY expects Tennessee to even keep it close, and that always seems to be to the Vols' advantage. Also, the last two games in Neyland between these two teams have been determined by a whopping 3 points. That's all for now...

Vanderbilt at Ole Miss: Speaking of under-the-radar, this game isn't even on TV. These two teams are probably better than their names suggest they are. It's the first SEC game in Oxford for Houston Nutt, and it's probably a good idea to not lose to Vandy.

The 'Dores have been impressive, and their next three games - trips to the Mississippi schools sandwiching hosting Auburn - are winnable. I can't lie, as much as Vanderbilt going to a bowl is something I wouldn't mind seeing, I am ready to see how Vanderbilt will blow this good start and miss on a bowl for the 75th straight year (actually, it's just been 25 years...)

Wofford at South Carolina: If I was a South Carolina fan, I probably wouldn't even go to this game - there's too much better football on...

Then again, it's a definite win, so Williams-Brice will likely be packed full...

LSU at Auburn (ESPN, 7:45): All you people who claimed Auburn as a shoo-in to win the West, how do you feel now?? I've been on the LSU side of that debate since summer, and I think they'll win this game at Auburn. The thing that makes me a little hesitant is the injury to Darry Beckwith, one of the two Tiger starters returning behind that nasty defensive line. Chris Todd thought Mississippi State was good up front? Uh, he should be having nightmares of the LSU front this week...

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="310" caption="Seriously, with the amount of talent surrounding the LSU QB - like Demetrius Byrd - I think I could probably win some games (although not against the Auburn defense)"][/caption]

Of course the LSU QB is the biggest question in this game. That could be interesting thing, seeing as Auburn scored three points last week - and won. I don't care how bad Mississippi State's offense is, Auburn's defense is pretty nasty too. But LSU has an advantage at the WR position, ridiculous talent all over the field, and the best lines in the SEC. Can the QB (Jarrett Lee/Andrew Hatch, I don't even know...) use that?

Georgia at Arizona State (ABC, 8:00): I was so upset the Georgia Bulldogs pulled out the win in Columbia, but they made the plays they had to for the W. I really do want them to fail at everything. A win in Tempe would make up for "The Fluke" (what I'm calling the UCLA loss from now on), and I haven't been impressed with Arizona State any - not last year and didn't think they'd be that good this year. Then they lose to UNLV. Georgia's the better team and they should win - but of course I want them to fail - miserably.


IN CASE OF BLOWOUTS:

Here's proof that everyone's going to be watching the SEC games this weekend. The rest are just not so pretty that I'm not giving them their own little bits.

Tonight's game (West Virginia at Colorado (8:00, ESPN)) is fairly interesting. How bad would it be if the second best team in the JV League (giving USF the benefit of the doubt of course) went out and lost to the fourth-best team...in the Big 12 North? Maybe it will prove what many talking heads have already been saying - that the Big 12 is this year's runner-up in terms of conference strength.

The ACC could very well be determined this weekend, as there's Virginia Tech at Lawvol's Tar Heels and Wake Forest at Florida State. I can't lie, I'm on the Seminole bandwagon, so if they lose to Wake they pretty much won't win the ACC. Not that Wake's bad because they aren't, but this a game the Noles need to win.

Another game with an ACC team features Miami at Texas A&M, and it's another measuring stick for the Canes program. They need this game. Florida State and Miami need to get back up to respectability, to quell the stupid Gator success (or maybe Tennessee should do it themselves...)

Elsewhere, there's Notre Dame at Michigan State (I hope the Irish fail at everything, too), Boise State at Oregon, and don't sleep on Troy as they play Ohio State (who doesn't get bolded anymore til they actually win a big non-conference game).

Enjoy your SEC football this weekend, folks.


Images Courtesy of: Danny Johnston / AP (Daylife)Chris Graythen / Getty Images (Daylife)

The State of Hate: Football Rivalries at Tennessee

No Pass Out Checks | Gate21

Tennessee FootballRivalries are the essence of college football.

Rivalries -- and I mean "real" rivalries, not just the "Oh, I really hope we beat Team X" sort of competition -- are what drives so much of the passion that comes with college football season and what compels so many of us to travel great distances, expend huge sums of money, lose sleep, risk personal injury, get arrested for disorderly conduct, and the like for the sole purpose of seeing our team play against our fiercest rival. It is the fire-in-the-belly that keeps us coming back for more. It is a question of pride, of respect, of tradition, and (sometimes) insanity.

The funny thing about rivalries is that they are not always two-way streets. That is, just because Kentucky Wildcats fans feel in their heart that the New England Patriots are their most intense and hated rival, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the Patriots care about Kentucky at all (except to the extent that Bill Bellichick is willing to rent a helicopter and hire some off-duty FBI agents to tape the Kentucky practices, but that’s really nothing the slightest bit out of the ordinary).

My point is this: rivalries are special and they require ... the only word I can think of is "maintenance." As the old axiom goes, "there is a thin line between love and hate" -- they are opposite ends of the same consuming emotion. In our "real" lives -- independent of the sports world -- strong relationships or aversions require something to keep them going. Anyone who is married (or perhaps used to be) knows this is true. By the same token, for most people, the same is true for hateful relationships (the exception to this being people like Adolph Hitler, members of the KKK, and the like -- they simply enjoy hatred too much, which is why they have special condos reserved for them at the warmer end of Hell). For most of us, however, it is hard to continue truly despising someone, unless they give us a reason to do so. The fundamental point here is that, over time, both good and bad emotions cool and fade.

The same is true for college football rivalries. The peculiar thing is that, unlike personal relationships, a heaping helping of animus and acid can be a good thing when it comes to football. Thus, keeping the flames of animosity burning is very important. Thus, I pose a simple question:

What is the "state" of football rivalry at Tennessee?

As a general rule, I think that the core rivalries between Tennessee and others are healthy and hateful. Then again, precisely who is Tennessee’s biggest rival?

Throughout the history of the Tennessee Football program, rivalries have often been heated, but not always lasting. For orange-blooded fans who came of age at any time during the period spanning from the late 1950s up until the early 1990s, there really was little question about who the Vols’ most despised rival is and always will be. Falling within this era, it is easy for me to give rivalry a face...

I know the true colors of mine enemy, and he is as crimson as blood in the vein.

Alabama FootballYes, for me Tennessee’s greatest rival will always be the Alabama Crimson Tide -- there is no other rivalry in my mind which even comes close. It is a rivalry which spans decades -- beginning in the late 1930s and the era of General Neyland, flowing into the late 1950s and 60s and the emergence of the man known as "Bear," and continuing up to the present. To me, the truest rivalry for Tennessee is its blood-feud with the Tide. The Tennessee / Alabama series is Dixie’s great football war. To me, the most important game of the season will always be known not by its participants, but by its date...

...The Third Saturday in October.

This is what I have always known, this is what resonates with me. For some followers of the Big Orange, however, the face of rivalry takes on a decidedly different hue. Most notably, Vol fans who cemented their bonds in the 1990s -- in many instances -- consider not the Tide, but the Florida Gators to be the most fearsome rivalry for Tennessee. Given the course of SEC football history for the last 15 years or so, this is understandable.

Still others -- due to location, personal experience, perceived slights, the balance of power, where their ex-spouses went to school, how much they've had to drink, or whether it is a Tuesday -- consider other teams to be Tennessee’s greatest rival, such as the Georgia Bulldogs or the Memphis Tigers (which I simply don’t get).

Thus, I suppose it is fair to ask who is Tennessee’s greatest rival?

If you look at rivalries in terms of tradition and history, I really think it is hard to argue with the notion that Tennessee and Alabama have fought one another doggedly for a longer period of time than any of the other schools in the SEC. My blood still simmers at the thought that Alabama is one of only a handful of schools against whom Tennessee has an all-time losing record. In 89 contests since 1901, Tennessee is 38-44-7 all-time against the Tide. Even more bothersome for me were the two noteworthy streaks by Alabama during my lifetime: 1971-1981 and 1986-94. During those 20 seasons, Tennessee’s record against the Tide was an abysmal 0-19-1.

Statistics like that make you wake up at 3:00 am and retch your guts out -- therein lies the birth of rivalry.

Florida FootballThen, of course there are the Florida Gators. Surprisingly to some, Tennessee and Florida have only played 36 times in the schools’ collective histories. Tennessee clings to a lead in the series at 19-17-0. That statistic, however, is really a tale of two different eras. From 1916 until 1990, Tennessee was 14-6-0 versus the Gators, but from 1991 to the present, Tennessee is only 5-11-0. Those numbers speak volumes about the way that series has changed since the day a guy named Steve Spurrier walked into Gainesville and -- for the first time in the history of the University of Florida -- made the Gators respectable. From there it was a short way to making them winners. It is easy to understand why many modern fans of the Vols seethe with venom at the mention of the U of F.

Of course mere competition and loathing is not the only thing that goes into a rivalry -- there are a lot of  other elements to a rivalry, including that little thing called "respect." Even though I consider Alabama and Florida to be Tennessee's two main rivals in the modern era, the "faces" of those rivalries in my eyes are decidedly different.

I hate to lose to Alabama. Hate it, hate it, hate it with a passion -- with all that I am,  I hate to lose to those people.  Man, do I hate it!  I do not, however, hate Alabama -- I respect them.  No, that does not mean I want Phil Fulmer to start emulating Nick Saban, or anything like that, but as a program -- taking all of the history, tradition, fans, and other intangibles into account -- I do respect the Crimson Tide. I have often described Tennessee’s rivalry with the Tide as a "classic" or "gentlemen’s" rivalry (and, no, that doesn’t mean that there are pole dancers involved). Speaking from my own experience, I would sum it up like this:

When it comes to the Tennessee / Alabama game, you pull like hell for your team in the stadium, and then you drink a beer with one another after it is over...

My point is that while the Vols and the Tide may declare war on the field -- for me -- it stays on the field. I can honestly say that any time Alabama is playing a non-conference opponent I pull for the Tide without reservation. The rivalry is one grounded in mutual respect (after all, I think Johnny Majors in his prime could drink just as much bourbon as the Bear -- which is pretty cool, if you ask me). I know there are those who will disagree with me on this, but that’s what the rivalry "feels" like to me.

When it comes to Florida, on the other hand, I cannot stand one single thing about that school, and having attended games in Gainesville on multiple occasions, I can honestly say that I’d rather have my intestines removed through my nose ... with a spoon ... than go back. That would be true regardless of whether Tennessee won the game or not. I am not going to use this article as a flame-fest and just talk about how much I hate Florida, and I’m trying very hard not to let my personal thoughts and bad experiences seep into this too much -- there’s no point or value in that. Thus, in the interest of avoiding a slanging match, I will use an example.

As many Tennessee fans can doubtless recall, on several occasions there have been instances where, Florida winning against another team (most notably Georgia) would help Tennessee in terms of the Vols' ranking in the SEC East.  I remember being asked at the time, whether I would pull for Florida if it would help the Vols. My response to that question is as simple as it is heartfelt:

I hate Florida more than I love the Vols...

I will never pull for Florida under any circumstance, no matter how much it might hurt the Vols. Suffice it to say, based on my personal experience I have no respect for the Gators. Not a drop.

That is but one more reason Alabama ranks first in my book...

Thus, the team which I rank as Tennessee’s greatest rival is not the team I hate most -- which I suppose is inherently inconsistent. For me, however, a rivalry is something more than unabashed hatred -- though it does go a long way toward starting a rivalry. Ultimately, I feel that a true rivalry requires more. For me, that will always mean Alabama. Quite frankly, I don’t think Florida is worth elevating to that status (yep, that one’s gonna get me some hate mail).

Of course, another thing that must be considered if assessing these rivalries is what the rival thinks of Tennessee. For any rivalry to be maintained, the feelings of animosity must be mutual. Let me give you an example.

Vanderbilt FootballThe reality is that most fans of the Vanderbilt Commodores probably consider the Vols to be their biggest rival. Tennessee and Vanderbilt are only about 3 hours apart, and they both call the same state home. It is easy for Vanderbilt to hate Tennessee. If you ask the average Vol fan, however, it is doubtful that Vanderbilt is anywhere near the top of their list of Tennessee’s rivals in terms of significance. While Vol fans tend to take Vanderbilt more seriously than they used to since Vanderbilt’s 2005 victory against the Vols -- snapping Tennessee’s 22-game win streak -- with an overall series record of 68-27-5 in Tennessee’s favor, it is doubtful most orange-clad faithful truly despise Vanderbilt. Having been present at Vanderbilt’s 2005 win, there were more than a few Vol fans (already disgusted with Tennessee’s performance that year) who openly congratulated Vanderbilt, or -- at a minimum -- admitted that the ’Dores were due.

Still, it wasn’t always that way...

From 1892 until 1927, Vanderbilt dominated Tennessee, compiling a record of 18-2-3 against the hapless Vols. The rivalry between the two schools was so great that, in 1925, when it came time to hire a new football coach, Robert Neyland was told that the only requirement of his employment was that he beat Vanderbilt. Keen on maintaining his livelihood, Neyland completely reshaped the dynamic of the Tennessee / Vanderbilt rivalry. Under Neyland, Tennessee began establishing itself as a winning program and embarked on an 82 year stretch during which Vanderbilt would win a grand total of 9 games in 77 tries. With that change, the rivalry rapidly faded into memory -- at least for Tennessee fans.

So do Alabama and Florida consider Tennessee to be a true rival?

While I am not going to purport to speak for the Tide or the Gators (and I freely invite any comments from those out there who might actually stumble upon this article) I would imagine that the Vols are definitely an "honorable mention" in terms of rivalry for each. Still, given the fact that both Alabama and Florida have fierce in-state rivalries with the Auburn Tigers and Florida State Seminoles respectively, I doubt that -- if polled -- a majority at either school would place Tennessee at the top of the heap in terms of rivalry. In fact, at some level, I question whether any school in the SEC other than Vanderbilt would dub Tennessee as their most hated rival. The one other possible candidate might be the Georgia Bulldogs who -- for the better part of my lifetime -- have seemed utterly unable to consistently find a way to beat Tennessee no matter how heavily skewed the odds are in the Bulldogs’ favor.

I suppose, in the end, Tennessee is everyone’s second most hated team...

Either way, however, I do hope that these rivalries continue to exist and grow in terms or their intensity and fervor. While "true" hatred (and by that I mean real hatred of real people along the lines of the whackos noted at the top of this article) is a terribly ugly and reprehensible thing, I believe that a little faux-hatred directed at another team (not its individual fans) can be a very healthy thing for the game of college football -- if for no other reason than to drive those competitive instincts into a fury. While I feel Tennessee’s rivalries with Alabama and Florida are in good shape at present -- at least in terms of their staying power -- it is always possible that they could fizzle out.

Of course, each fan of each team has the ability to define rivalry in their own terms. So too, changes in the game constantly reshape the landscape of college football, creating new affection, enmity, and apathy. Thus, it is impossible for me to say who Tennessee’s biggest rival will be in 10 years, 20 years, or beyond. I will not try to tell anyone what team they should despise.

I just hope that they find that one team ... and keep those fires stoked for years to come.

-- Go Figure …Email lawvol


Shoutin’ Out: Basilio & Beano on the Edge

Shoutin Out  | Gate 21

Continuing with more random off-season banter, today's "message of love"** goes out to one of my absolute favorites on the web and the radio: Tony Basilio and "Beano Jeff" on the Edge.

The Edge with Tony & Beano

Sports-talk shows are about as common as overly-opinionated and poorly written blogs like Gate 21 ... okay, maybe not that common, but they're common.

As a general rule, I tend to tire quickly of sports-talk personalities -- especially those where the show ends up being more about the host than it is about sports (which is increasingly the case). It is for this reason that I have not been a regular sports-talk listener for the last decade; that is, until a friend turned me on to B&B at Midday.

If you are a fan of the Tennessee Volunteers and enjoy talking sports, then you should really give Basilio & Beano a listen. They just celebrated their second anniversary on the air with Knoxville's WVLZ, and -- in my humble opinion -- they are the best sports-talk tandem anywhere. Period.

Tony & Beano

They're on the the air everyday from 11:00 am until 2:00 pm on ESPN Radio - Knoxville: 1180 WVLZ. There's no spin, just truthtellin' and real analysis of anything having to do with Tennessee, the SEC, and the rest of the sports world. The biggest difference between B&B and all the rest is the fact that they unabashedly represent the views of the common fan, and don't needlessly buy into the hype that so often spews from the mouths of many out there in the sports world. I like that "de-crap-ified" type of sports-talk. Tony Basilio and "Beano Jeff" are down to earth, never take themselves too seriously, and aren't afraid "to call a duck a duck."

"Hey, don't you live like six hours from Knoxville? How are you listening to the show?"

Well, sports fans, you're right -- I live in the bowels of ACC country. In my neck of the woods I hear enough about the Tarheads and Dook to make me want to retch, however, through the miracle that is the internet, I can listen to Basilio & Beano everyday from my desk (when I should be doing something else ... such as work) via their streaming audio broadcast on the web. Thus, as long as you have an internet connection, you can get your daily fix -- even from hundreds of miles away ... or more (not too long ago, a Tennessee fan living in Japan called in on the show). If you miss the show, they even have podcasts of the show available for download.

At any rate, give Tony and Beano a listen: always standing up for the common fan, always interesting, always honest...

-- Go Figure …


** Disclosure: While Gate 21 and TonyBasilio.com both feature hyperlinks to one another, neither site, their parent companies, editors, nor webmasters receive any payment or other compensation of any type or kind in return for those links. Furthermore, neither Gate 21 nor Lawvol received any compensation for this review, which was not requested or solicited by B&B at Midday or WVLZ. This "Shout Out" represents the actual opinion of the author (for what that is worth) and was in no way influenced by any other person.
In other words: This isn't an advertisement.
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