I love the romance and tradition of our American Pastime. It's so unlike our other big sports and that's part of what I love. You stand around and chat a lot. You can chew gum. You go inside if it rains. You play until you're done. None of this running around to beat the clock business. It's almost zen-like. Even more so with a cold beer. It's good.
And I love Shakespeare. I especially love it performed on a hopefully not-quite-so-muggy-but-who-are-we-kidding-here August evening, in a park, sitting on a blanket with snacks and a bottle of wine and good friends. I love that a group of local actors get together every summer and pull off a major feat of memorization and creativity and all you have to do to see it is show up and toss a donation into a bucket.
Baseball and Shakespeare in the Park. These are both great and wondrous things.
But they're not college football.
I try. I try so hard to love these quintessential summertime traditions. And I do love them. But the heart wants what it wants and my whole body literally twitches with anticipation at every scrimmage report, recruiting update, release of pre-season rankings and press conferences to put to rest what color our uniforms are going to be.
No, I'm not kidding.
There were rampant reports at one point this summer that we would be changing to black uniforms. I was all, "Really?! Is it not enough we have a new head coach who looks and dresses and runs his damn mouth like some cocky little 13 year-old? Is the plan to completely do away with everything else that is good and holy now too? Are you trying to kill me? Black uniforms? While we're at it, why don't we just send poor Smokey to the pound and get some slobbery bulldog or some stupid rooster to be our mascot instead. Or better yet, why don't we just eliminate all of our traditions in one fail swoop and at the first game drag ole Davy Crockett out to the 50 yard line and shoot him with his musket."
Honestly. There was a difficult day in July when I really thought my head might explode...
Good thing it all turned out to be a rumor, huh. It's been a sensitive summer in Big Orange Country.
The best moment of the summer though, came from my Google Reader. I have a special section on it for UT football blogs and news feeds. I try to ignore the little tab at the bottom of my computer screen as I'm working as it's updating the total number of stories I have waiting for me (there are sections for legitimate news too!). Usually it just increases one or two every few minutes unless something big happens. The other day I glanced down and watched as the story count jumped by 6 or so. Then by another 5. And then another 5. I kind of panicked thinking some big, world event had occurred or another celebrity had died.
So I opened the tab. All the new stories were in the UT Football section. The cause: the new Jumbotron at the stadium was almost completely up and they were running test pictures. People were taking photos of it from the street with their cell phones and posting it to their blogs. Hilarious. I shook my head in amusement as I opened the first few.
Then there was a post with the picture of one of the screens that contained two words - a play on our famous saying, "It's football time in Tennessee!" that is shouted by 107,000+ at the beginning of every game (and by several hundred other thousand in front of their TVs and radios).
The screen simply read, "It's Time," (spelled with the Power T, of course). Don't know the marketing team behind that bit of genius, but it perfectly sums up the end of a long summer, the hope of a new season and the promise of a new era.
Cocky new coaches and rumors of black uniforms be damned, I have to admit I got a little goose-bumpy.
And I'm not the only one. The caption under the photo read, "Amen."
Here's to the official end of summer. And, of course, GO VOLS!