Friday, September 01, 2006
"What time is it? You know what time it is..."
If you have about five minutes to watch the above video, I highly recommend it. It's a good introduction to this post. (There is something a little more contemporary at the end of this confessional.)
Tomorrow at 5:30 P.M., a team from an inferior conference will invade Neyland Stadium - the California Golden Bears. Many, including Jimmy Hyams, John Wilkerson, and Brent Hubbs, have picked Cal to win.
We cannot allow that happen. I'm now writing to those who will be attending the game on Saturday. It's time we take our stadium back. Neyland has been a house of horrors for our beloved Vols lately, and while there is plenty of blame to go around, some of that lies with us, the fans who attend the home games.
Some have blamed that lack of crowd noise on those in "grandfathered season tickets." Others blame Mike Hamilton for raising ticket prices so that the common fan has been priced out of the stadium, leaving the "country club set" in their place, people who wouldn't want to stand and make noise because it might be uncouth.
I don't care about the cause. What we need is the solution.
If you have tickets for Saturday's game, come ready to give your all for Tennessee - just like the sign says in the Tennessee lockerroom. If you don't want to do that and would rather watch ballet or opera, then find a deserving person to go in your stead.
Am I asking for too much? Maybe, but you have to understand what UT football means to the city of Knoxville in general and me personally.
How deep is my love for the Vols?
My love of the Vols is so great that I disclosed such to my future wife early on (think Fever Pitch, but replace the Red Sox with the Vols). My home office is clad in orange. My work office is filled with orange. A good deal of my wardrobe is orange. A good deal of the VOLConWife's wardrobe has been transitioned from the gold and black of Vanderbilt to orange and white. I decided to buy the house in which we currently live because it is within walking distance of Neyland Stadium. Before I lived in Knoxville, I would play The Pride of the Southland's "Rocky Top" when entering the city. I have taken off of from work/school for every Signing Day since 2000. I have over 7,400 posts on Volquest.com discussing Tennessee football and basketball.
Obsessed? Absolutely. But I am certainly not unique in any sense. There are thousands of others in East Tennessee and beyond with the same obsession.
I approach gameday with the fun and enthusiasm that it demands, but I also see the experience as one of participation. I put out the "Power T" flag early in the morning. When tailgating with friends (which I will not be for this game, as I will be for the next two weekends), menus are planned well in advance and coordinated so that everyone can safely be in position for the VolWalk and band processional. The planning is essential because games are an emotional experience for me, and I don't want to have disorganization interfere with my enjoyment of the game.
It is an emotional experience. I have talked to Pride members who say that - when the "T" opens up, the crowd lets loose, and the fireworks erupt in the sky - they cry. I admit that I often shed a few tears then, too. (The VOLConWife may be convinced to spill the beans on me here, because I might be downplaying this a bit...)
It's the pride in being a Tennessean. It's the honor of having attended this great university, of being called an alum of the The University of Tennessee. It's the common thread that unites those of us who dreamed of running through the "T" and can think of no better place on Earth to be on a Saturday afternoon. It's the memories we have of Al Wilson, Peyton Manning, Heath Shuler, Willie Gault, Anthony Hancock, and so many others.
If you think you might know what I have been writing about in this post, please come to Neyland Stadium on Saturday ready to give it your all. The members of this football team give so much of themselves, risking their health and livelihood for UT. Try to help them in their pursuit.
Have fun, be safe, and cheer to the Vols to victory.
Give your all for Tennessee - today and every day.