Where you went to school may not mean a lot to you, and that's fine.
But I'm a fiercely proud person. I'm ridiculously loyal. I'll try to mention Flintville School and Lincoln County High School in my writing as often as I get the chance. I love boasting that my stoplight-less hometown is Vanntown, Tennessee, and the closest post office is in Elora, a town I'll also claim as my own.
When it comes to the University of Tennessee, I'm proudest of all.
It means a lot to me that I've got my degree from that proud school. I've got it hanging in my office within view of anybody who sits in my living room. If my little boy wants to attend UT and gets that opportunity, I'll pay out-of-state tuition so he's able. I'm a Volunteer through and through. Nothing will ever change that. I'll never be less passionate about it than I am right now, and I'll forever trumpet my degree and my school as long as I live.
Journalism major, College of Communications, University of Tennessee, 2002.
So, when we stand to sing the alma mater at halftime of Vols games, I'll stand, take off my hat, close my eyes. I'm not even ashamed to mention I'll occasionally look around at all the orange around me and tear up. I'm confident enough in my manhood to tell you guys and gals that UT means that much to me. Again, I stress, I'm fiercely loyal ... almost to a fault. Almost embarrassingly so.
I love "Down the Field." I love "Fight, Vols, Fight." I love the "Tennessee Waltz." And, of course, I love "Rocky Top." But the alma mater is important to me. It hits another emotional level for me. And I love that song as much as any other.
When I was younger, I didn't understand why we sang it. I didn't listen to the words, what they meant. What "LOYALTY" really was. You understand loyalty when you've been through nearly a decade of embarrassment on the football field, when you wage battles with family over your children's team allegiances, when you're forced to endure the lowest of lows when your rivals are enjoying the highest of highs.
I still sing it proudly. I will continue to do so.
UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE ALMA MATER
On a Hallowed hill in Tennessee
Like Beacon shining bright
The stately walls of old UT
Rise glorious to the sight.
So here's to you old Tennessee,
Our Alma Mater true
We pledge in love and harmony
Our loyalty to you.
What torches kindled at that flame
Have passed from hand to hand
What hearts cemented in that name
Bind land to stranger land.
O, ever as we strive to rise
On life's unresting stream
Dear Alma Mater, may our eyes
Be lifted to that gleam.