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Author Topic: What does UT football mean to you?  (Read 8107 times)
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Black Diamond Vol
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« on: August 31, 2008, 09:41:59 EDT »

The '86 Sugar Bowl.  The Miracle at South Bend.  The wins over UF in '98 and 2001.  Clint Stoerner's fumble.  The '98 National Title game.  Precious memories for Vol fans everywhere. 

But those were just the headlines.  As we sit here on the eve of yet another season of Big Orange football, I'm reminded of the more personal memories tied to those games and others.  The games themselves bind us all, but it's the individual stories that shape our fanhood- happy, sad, funny, and sobering.  What does being a Vol fan mean to you? Here's what it means to me:

It's riding up to Knoxville with my family on a football Saturday when I was 10 years old.  Were we going to a game?  Nope.  Dad was pondering a transfer to Knoxville, and we were going to look at houses.  I wasn't even a Vol fan yet.  Had never been to a game, so I had no idea what UT football meant to that town.  But I soon found out.  As we rode around some of the neighborhoods of West Knoxville, I was struck at how little traffic there was.  That side of town was basically shut down. Some of the houses we looked at were lived-in, and the families were at home.  All of them, every single one, had the radio tuned in to the voices of John Ward and Bill Anderson.  I don't even remember who the Vols played that day, but I was amazed at how the phenomenon of a simple football game could consume an entire city.  As it turned out, Dad didn't take that job, and we stayed in Chattanooga.  But I'll always remember that day- it was my earliest memory of UT football. 

It's curling up in front of our 25" console TV to watch the Sugar Bowl on New Years night in 1986.  This was the final game of the season that turned me (and many others of my generation) into a Big Orange die hard.  We all know how that game went, but one of the things I remember most is seeing the crowd on TV, and how it basically looked and sounded like a UT home game.  I remember asking my Dad, "What happened?  Didn't Miami get any tickets?"  I was still a little naive at that point, so I just assumed that all college fanbases followed their teams with the same ferver that we do.  I learned that day that all fans are not created equal. 

It's walking out of the Superdome following the comeback win over Virginia in the '91 Sugar Bowl.  UVa took a big lead into halftime, when their band desecrated a life-size Elvis doll on the field.  As we walked into the night, we joined other UT fans in chanting "Don't fizzle with Elvis!"

It's being home on leave in '94 and driving down to Gainesville with a couple friends to see the Gator Bowl.  We went down without tickets, hoping to get some on the street.  And we did get GREAT seats, as it turned out, from Brandon Stewart's parents.  We sat with Brandon's family for the entire game.  I know they didn't leave a good taste in a lot of Vol fans' mouths, but they were very gracious to us that day. 

It's meeting Volznut and Voluptuous prior to the UF game in '98.  We think nothing of it these days, but that was the first time I had ever met someone in person that I had only previously known online.  Crazy as it sounds today, I was a little nervous about this, wondering just what kind of weirdos they may be. 

It's helping a mob carry a goalpost down Cumberland Avenue that night, with all of us chanting "fizzle the gators" at the top of our lungs.  If you've never done this, then you have no idea just how heavy those damn things are.  I was sore for three days after that, and it was totally worth it.

It was the 5 minutes immediately following Clint Stoerner's fumble.  I'm not really a touchy-feely kind of person, but I think I hugged more complete strangers in those five minutes than I have in the rest of my life before or after that point.  Afterwards, as I walked back in the cold, miserable rain, I met my roomate Brian (who was sitting in another part of the stadium) on the steps of the library.  The first words out of my mouth were, "Did that really just happen?  Because I'm still not sure I believe it". 

It's smoking victory cigars at O'Charleys following the Fiesta Bowl win over FSU.  Except Brian didn't know that he wasn't supposed to inhale.  Shorly after, as we raced towards West Town Mall to pick up some NC merchandise, he told me to pull over.  "Why?" I asked.  "Because that damn cigar is making me puke!" 

It's trying to score points with the ladies by slicing limes for them to put in their froo-froo beer at the tailgate before the South Carolina game in '99.  FYI, never do this while drinking.  I think there's still a blood stain on the pavement in the Credit Union parking lot from where I damn near cut my pinky off. 

It's buying a new hat prior to every season.  I generally don't even wear hats anymore- but superstition says I still have to get one. 

It's putting together my annual tailgate playlist.

It's the time we sang our usual round of "You Never Even Called Me By My Name" before the season opener in 2003, with all of us crying like girls.  Brian had died suddenly that previous January, and this was always his favorite part of gameday.

It's the 2004 Florida game.  How did that one turn out again?

It's that trip to the supermarket to pick up tailgating supplies the night before the first homegame.  Is there ever a more joyous occasion to make a routine trip to the grocery?

It's every new season, wondering how Emeril is going to top the previous year's elaborate tailgate setup. 

It's the guy who sits two rows in front of Emeril and myself.  I don't think anyone even knows his name, we just know him as the "IT'S THIRD DOWN!" guy.

It's the fact that, even though Coach O is long gone, I'm STILL going to play "Colonel Reb is Crying" on gamedays this year, just because it's so damn funny.

It's VTTW.  For the past ten years, whatever the server, this site has provided us all a place to talk sports- but sports is obviously just the tip of the iceberg.  I've made friends on here that I'll keep for the rest of my life- and for that reason, this place is as big a part of my UT fandom as anything.  Thanks to Revolver and all the admins for making it possible.

That's just a short list of what UT football means to me.  Here's hoping we add a lot more pleasant stories this season.  It's only a day away. 
« Last Edit: September 01, 2008, 01:10:33 EDT by PirateVOL » Logged

Jean Voljean
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« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2008, 11:30:10 EDT »

I would add:  Enduring the lows without giving up on the team - going 0-6, losing 11 straight to the Tide, staying and cheering for the team until the 0.00 no matter what.  The highs have been much higher as a result and every victory and championship has been that much sweeter because as fans, that's the only way we actually can claim to have earned any of the mountaintop.

And converting every redneck or moron joke into being about Alabama fans.  I've really enjoyed that.
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droner
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« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2008, 11:38:22 EDT »

Excellent.

I give this a star and a nomination for VTTW Hall of Fame. I don't have to see them. I know that they are there. 

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quahog mike
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« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2008, 08:54:32 EDT »

The '86 Sugar Bowl.  The Miracle at South Bend.  The wins over UF in '98 and 2001.  Clint Stoerner's fumble.  The '98 National Title game.  Precious memories for Vol fans everywhere. 
FSN's 50 best damn CFB moments ever
#1 was the Cal-Stanford lateral-palooza band on the field game
#2 was Flutie
#45 was Stumbl-oerner

What UT football means to me is that darn Rocky Top WOO!   Gotta have the woo!
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Quasi EVol
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« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2008, 07:15:51 EDT »

Rocky Top Tennessee!!!
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