We've spent the last 100 days celebrating everything we love about Tennessee Football, from Gus's Good Times Deli to the first game you remember; from singing the alma mater to winning on the road; from Andy Kelly to avoiding fall weddings. In these last few days as the 2013 season approaches, we've celebrated our greatest traditions, from the color orange to the checkerboard end zones. But to me, nothing encompasses everything great about Tennessee football more than the Pride of the Southland Marching Band forming the giant T, and watching the Vols come roaring out.
It is, as Joel puts it, all about anticipation at this time of the year. We spend eight months getting to this part. It happens seven times a year at Neyland Stadium. You can't show up late, or you'll miss it.
I've seen 1998 and I've seen the last five years. But every time, every year, the T never disappoints. Ever. It never loses its magic, never fails to produce goosebumps. And when it's a big game, the volume rises step for step with the anticipation. The slow build of the crowd as the band moves from its U-S-A formation to the power T is excellent, and the moment peaks as the band splits and the team emerges.
All the words I could use on it are completely worthless if you've seen it before, even if only once. There's nothing else like it; I would put our entrance up against anyone's in college football, especially because ours doesn't involve piped in music, smoke, or video. It's just the players, the band, and our logo. That's all it takes.
I love everything about being a Tennessee fan - it's the experience, not the wins, that keep you coming back. And I can think of no part of the experience as unique and as potent as the Vols roaring through the T, when anticipation meets reality. It is my favorite thing about Tennessee Football, because in it you enter the moment as a fan, lifting your voice and hearing it get lost with the others, all in unison celebrating with all of our might as the team takes the field and the game begins. The T is Tennessee Football. And it's here, again, finally.
It was John Ward who gave voice to so many of these moments that made so many of these 100 Days. So we end the countdown and move to kickoff as he said it best: ladies and gentlemen, wherever you listen...it's football time in Tennessee.