Everyone has things in and about their lives that they are thankful for. I'm no different. One of the many things about my life I am thankful for is my current record of having never seen the Tennessee Volunteers lose a football game in Neyland Stadium. We're not talking five or six games here either. I've been going to an average of around 3 home games per year since 1997. Some seasons I've only gotten one or two in, and others four or five. I don't know the exact count, but I do know that I'm somewhere in the area of 30-0, and quite possibly close to 40-0.
That number still astounds me. I've seen a lot of Tennessee losses over the years and each and every one was heartbreaking for me, even if I expected it. But, I've never experienced it in person. Also, don't think I've been just going to Vandy, Kentucky, and the yearly MAC contest alone each season. I've seen 'em all. I've seen teams from Notre Dame to Air Force to UAB to Memphis to Marshall, but what I'm most proud of is that I've seen every single team in the SEC come to Neyland Stadium and leave with a loss. Every single SEC team except one. You guessed it, the Georgia Bulldogs.
Fortunately, that changed Saturday.I think my hatred for all things Georgia has been well documented over the last week. I don't know why they were the only SEC team I haven't seen in Neyland just as I don't know why I've never seen Tennessee lose there. I had tickets offered to me for Auburn last week but turned them down. I had tickets in my hand for the LSU game Crompton almost won, but was sick and couldn't get up to Knoxville. I even came up thinking tickets were waiting on me for the infamous Gaffney catch-no-catch game against Florida, but those fell through and I watched that travesty from a bar on the Strip. So, when I was offered tickets to this game six months ago, I took them and put the wife on notice that we would be in Neyland on 10/10/2009. I couldn't be happier and more satisfied with the results.
I place attending that victory just a hair behind the 2004 Florida game as my favorite so far. I took pleasure in every ounce of pain, hurt, and embarrassment in each Georgia fans' eyes. I guess my hatred for Georgia borders on sadism, but I stayed until there was no time left wondering how we could get 60 on them.
As for the game itself, you don't really need me to tell you what it was like. Most anybody that has read this far has experienced it for themselves. There are just a few observations I would like to make before I show y'all some pictures.
Stats are overrated - It actually dawned on me in that game, maybe for the first time, that I watch a game live differently from on TV. I didn't know a single stat about Crompton's completions, Hardesty's yards, or Berry's tackles the entire game and couldn't have cared less. What I paid attention to at the game was how the momentum steadily built in UT's favor until they just turned the game into a blowout. The feeling was quite palpable in my opinion and at no point after it became 14-7 did I feel like the game was in jeopardy. I didn't find out the stat lines until I got home.
Neyland Stadium is nice - The renovation money was well spent. The concourse areas of Neyland have improved one million percent from the restrooms to the flat screen TV's everywhere.
Smokey Cheddar Dogs - Enough said really. I could eat myself into a heart attack on those things....
Bawitabadababdatiba?? - I'm not too sure about that being played so much, but it beats the heck out of the Bittersweet Symphony song they used to play all the time.
The Pride of the Southland needs help - I believe it was mentioned here before, but our band is looking quite low in numbers. Not sure what the deal is there...
Georgia never had a chance - I mentioned it above, but the ebb and flow of the game and the momentum was easy to see and feel inside Neyland. If you watched the Georgia sideline at any deadtime during the game, there was just no emotion or energy. Tennessee, on the other hand, always seemed to be.....um.....crunk? ;-)
And now for the photo essay of the trip. I didn't really get any pictures of the actual game for obvious reasons, but I tried to remember to snap a few here and there. So, here we go....
Definitely gotta get your car ready:
Don't forget the tickets!!
Throw some ice on the cheap beer and other assorted beverages...
Keystone Light is really just bottom-of-the-vat Coors Light. Seriously!
Get on up to Knoxville.
Reset the car decor after a very windy trip to Knoxville. Amazing what you can do with some beer and 24 zip-ties
No tailgate is complete without copious amounts of potato salad:
The above would have been the same size but straight mayonnaise at a Georgia tailgate.
Head past the Rock to the parking area
Someone upped the ante, but the ante got emptied. Tennessee better win if it's a brown-liquor day...
Tailgate some more....
Get your picture made with the obligatory inflatable Smokey
The obligatory inflatable Smokey also likes Keystone Light
Let's get it on!
Tennessee moves the ball
Now the other way..
The "Circle Drill"
A Georgia fan rocking the early nineties braided belt.
A fantastic investment:
The "jumping and screaming" thingy that I like
Making use of a late TV timeout
After the game outside Gate 16
Until next time...