Monday, October 19, 2009

Ain't No Place I'd Rather Be

"In the East, college football is a cultural exercise;
On the West Coast, it is a tourist attraction;
In the Midwest, it is cannibalism;
But in the South, it is religion."

- Marino "Godfather" Casem

"If you live in Tennessee or Alabama,
there are two rules to live by:
Don't get married on the third Saturday in October,
and try not to die -
because in either case, the preacher might not show."

- Beano Cook

These thoughts might explain why I treat the fall with the same level of discipline and reverence, if not more so, than Lent and why I consider this week to be the college football equivalent of Holy Week (sorry, Jesus). Sure, we've got other games after this week, but - as you've heard me mention a million times before - this is the week leading to the Third Saturday in October. It's the 92nd meeting of the universities of Tennessee and Alabama. This is the epitome of SEC football - and one of the all-time greatest rivalries in all of college football.

The first game was played in 1901 and ended in a 6-6 tie when the fans stormed the field to protest a call by the officials and started a small riot.

The civility has not improved in the years since.

I was once at a game where fans nearly went over the wall after two Alabama players who were warming up on the field while Tennessee's Pride of the Southland Marching Band was performing the end of their halftime show. People screamed and yelled at the players to get off the field. An official came and told them to get off the field. They did. The official walked off. The players sauntered back onto the field and started tossing the ball around over the heads of some band members. People went completely ballistic. I was suddenly torn between fearing for the two players' lives and really hoping a Sousaphone player would just swing around and take one of them out.

That said, I don't despise Alabama like I do Florida. I don't dread the feeling of losing to Alabama like I do when we lose to Florida. I want the Alabama game to be a bloodbath of Roman Colosseum proportions on the field and a gracious handshake when its all over that honors the tradition we all just participated in. Whereas Florida... even if they win, I want those Gators to have suffered so miserably for four quarters that they cry on camera during the post-game press conference.

The Florida game is played in early September when its still hot and humid as all hell, just adding to the dank and icky feeling you have about the whole event. In contrast, you can't find a prettier setting for a football game than Knoxville in October (Tuscaloosa isn't too bad either, I hear). The days are crisp and cool and sunny and the maple trees all agree in the importance of the game as they've all turned into the teams' colors of crimson and orange by this time. It is college football at its finest.

(It's actually been a lot more than cool and crisp here - poor Oliver's been hiding under quilts and blankets. I assume it's because he's cold, but it could be that he's knows what week this is and is afraid that I'll dress him in orange again...)

The game is back on national TV this year, as God intended (CBS 2:30c / 3:30e). The weather for Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa is supposed to be 62 and sunny. Alabama is currently ranked #1 and I don't have any real expectation of winning - but you never know. Stranger things have happened. Speaking of strange... I'll end with my pick for this week's Hail Mary Haiku contest over at Rocky Top Talk. An homage to Japanese poetry, the Grateful Dead, and a great college football tradition. Nice.

We will survive the
Alabama Getaway
signed, Tennessee Jed


1 comment:

Carrie said...

Well said. Go Vols!!