The Rocky Top Tennessee 2009 annual officially shipped out on Monday this week, meaning that all pre-orders are on their way to their intended destinations.
This weekend, I had the chance to hold one of these babies in my mitts and read through it for myself. At the risk of sounding incredibly self-serving, let me give you a few teasers:
- HIGH-QUALITY IMAGES. It's probably bad form to not first talk about some of the articles, but the first thing you'll notice is just how good everything looks. Seriously, you can count raindrops in Kiffin's hair on the cover. See the sa-weet picture of Eric Berry clobbering Moreno; it's the best detail of Moreno's cleats you'll ever find (page 29).
YOUR FAVORITE WRITERS, ALL IN ONE LOCATION. Joel did a terrific job of rounding up authors for the annual, including national writers (e.g. Feldman), local writers (e.g. Pennington) and bloggers. In addition, he fit the articles to the writers according to their strengths and experiences, so the writing is very natural.
- SOMETHING FOR EVERYBODY. There are historical stories, projections, biographies of coaches, interviews, and even breakdowns of the offense and defense - including x's and o's diagrams.
- ZERO ADVERTISEMENTS. ZERO. The only possible exception to this rule is the inside of the back cover, where Maple Street Press gives you a list of all of the teams they are covering this year. Other than that, it's pure Vol coverage, cover-to-cover.
- PERSONALITY AND HUMOR. Maple Street made the brilliant decision to let all of us have a little fun and freedom with our writing. It's not just copy-edited fishwrap material; you'll get the personalities of all of the writers coming through. Seriously, just check out Joel's postscript biography on page 5.
- GATORS, BULLDOGS, AND BAMMERS, OH MY! The writeups on Tennessee from rivals' points of view are incredible reads. Find out how Orson Swindle rates the odds of survival in the wilderness for Tennessee and Florida fans (page 62). Or how Doug Gillett really, deeply has to appreciate Tennessee for making life difficult on the 'Dawgs (page 70). Or why Todd Jones just couldn't keep away from Thompson-Boling Arena (page 63).
So long as you're not interested in things like Lane Kiffin's favorite breakfast cereal, where Smokey gets groomed, or fast food joint ads, you'll enjoy the annual. Whether it's Vols history, Vols coaching, Vols scheduling, Vols players, or Vols opponents, very article is focused on Vols football, pure and simple.
Ordering should get you your copy within the week, whereas waiting for the stores will mean waiting until the 21st.
We don't have free giveaways for the winners of these competitions, but bragging rights will go to the first person who: Cites the page number of my article. It's as simple as getting your copy and opening it up to the table of contents (to page 2) and looking me up. That'll let us know that the annual has actually made it into your hands.
As for merchandise, there's still the Rocky Top Talk Create Your Own UT Uniform Contest, where the winner has the choice of Feldman's Meat Market or ... a Rocky Top Tennessee 2009 annual. (Runner-up gets the other prize.)