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This past weekend was what college football is all about to  me. I was thinking going in that Alabama was a much better tean than Tennessee and that I would be dissapointed with anything less than humiliation of the hated Vawls from them. I was wrong.

The elation I experienced in the moments following the blocked kick as time expired was as euphoric as every win I’ve ever experienced as a fan in this storied series. It’s games like this that make the rivalry so great.

Now that I am somewhat rested the focus of my brain (and liver) has shifted to something other than clearing alcohol from my system. Some thoughts:

Alabama

  • This was the first game all year that left me feeling there were things to worry about. After watching the replay yesterday I feel better about that. Granted, the offense has to improve, but despite the fact that this one came down to the wire, Alabama did the things it needed to do to win. They aren’t perfect but they are a complete team.
  • They win. That’s the major difference in Alabama and Tennessee right now. It wasn’t to long ago that Alabama did not know how to win.
  • I was convinced that McElroy stunk it up Saturday after the game. Part of that was carryover from the South Carolina game and part of that was the idiot behind me in the stands screaming about open receivers. After the replay I feel better about him. He didn’t do things to help us lose the game, which is an improvement.  Obviously he needs to improve but I’m confident that he can. The thing that crossed my mind was maybe the speed of SEC defenses have sped the game up for him and he’s rushing his decision making and therefore his execution. Hopefully, the game will slow down for him and he’ll be fine. I’m confident that he can lead this team but we need to see improvement every week.
  • This has been stated ad naseum in the last thirty-six hours but the bye week comes at a great time. Rest and focus should do this team wonders.

Tennessee

  • The series of events that had to take place for Tennessee to have a chance to win this game was just amazing:
  1. The most sure handed rusher in the conference fumbles a ball.
  2. Overcomes a sack for a big loss of yardage to keep a drive alive.
  3. Score a touchdown against a team that hadn’t given up one in almost twelve quarters.
  4. Recover an onside kick.
  5. Move the ball enough to set up a field goal to win the game without a time out.

Simply amazing.

  • You could argue that UT did enough the rest of the game to be in position to win and I don’t know that I’d disagree. Still, in the stadium until around the two minute mark, I never felt like UT had a chance to win. As successful as the Vol offense had been and as good as Crompton was, there was a point on every promising drive that the worn out Alabama defense emphatically shut the door.  The final three minutes contained all the drama.
  • Deserve has nothing to do with this game. This UT team still has a ways to go to be competitive every week. Sometime mediocre teams play great games against better competition but I’ve never felt this was a true indicator of a team’s progress (as Lane would have you believe). The measure in this sport is not total yards, first downs, or time of possession. It’s wins. This UT team is 3-4. That’s not very good.
  • Keeping on the same theme, this situation reminds me of Alabama and LSU in ’07. The Tide took LSU to the wire and lost after leading most of the game. They felt good about themselves and then threw all that promise away in consecutive weeks (against Mississippi State, La-Monroe, and Auburn no less). This is not a prediction, but the Vols need to focus on South Carolina this week, and not what they did or almost did against Alabama. Another Vol loss this week (and more the rest of the way) will not surprise me at all.
  • Lane Kiffin needs to shut the hell up. Obviously, I’m not a fan, but this is ridiculous. He’s already calling for the victory next year and and whining about headsets and penalties like it was a conspiracy that kept his team from winning. I loathe people that place blame on anyone but themselves for thier situation. Lane seem like the poster boy for that. Your team did a lot and I mean a lot to gain respect from at least this Alabama fan this week. Kiffin stuck a pin in that balloon real quickly with his big mouth. Just be quiet and let the team make the statement for what you’re doing.
  • When is someone going to start the Kiffin promise board. He’s making promises more quickly than a politician – which he reminds me of. He’s saying all theses things that his fans want to hear but he isn’t really following up on them. I’ll start the check list: “… not getting recruits from Memphis (OK, that was Thompson, but he’s writing checks on Kiffin’s account) -not happening. “Sing Rocky Top all night after beating the Gators” – didn’t happen. After he’s finished promising all the losses from this season that are supposed to be wins next year UT should run the table by his estimation.
  • Tennessee played a great game. They were well prepared and played very physical football for sixty minutes. Unlike the last two years, they never gave up in this one. My credit is worthless, but they were a more impressive product than I have seen in a while from the boys in orange. The single biggest superlative for this team is its tenacity.

Personal

  • I always look forward to and enjoy this game every year. There was. however,  a perfect storm of events that made this one extra special:
  1. Weather that proves God loves college football
  2. My friends Chris and Steve flying in from Albuquerque and Denver respectively keeping a string of twelve consecutive years where we all attend a game together going.
  3. Chris and Steve bringing their fraternity brothers Justin and Seth with them for the second time. These guys are southwest guys with no ties to Alabama other than friendship and have become big fans – they love the experience of southern football.
  4. Getting to meet and hang out with three folks I like and respect from the internet all in the same day: Holly, Doug, and later Clay Travis. Good folks all.
  5. The game itself. Obviously.
  6. Finishing the night doing shots with a former professional baseball player who was in town for the game. (and who was an all-around good guy).

Like the team, I need a bye week. I’m going to focus on work, flag football, and hopefully a little rock climbing before the team hits the field again for a huge matchup with the Tigahs.

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Despite the absence of new posts in the last week, I haven’t given up on this. It’s just been, to borrow a friend’s expression, “turbo-busy”. The work load has gotten a little better as we completed a few projects that had deadlines early this week but the 40 60 hour work week is looking a little better.

In spite of working a lot we have begun little league this week. My oldest son is playing coach pitch and- despite my strong desire not to help this year- I am helping with his team because the regular coach has virtually no help. I am also coaching my youngest son’s team because I wanted him to have the same great experience that his brother had and I didn’t know any of the other folks coaching in his division as was the case with his brother.

As you could imagine “coaching” a group of four and five year old children is not really coaching. It’s more like babysitting. Herding cats is a better description and with the use of aluminum bats and projectiles it can be quite nerve racking. Half of the eleven kids on the team cried at some point during practice, including mine. And no it wasn’t because I was yelling at them. They were upset because they wanted to hit or someone had beaten them in the race to field a grounder.

Please don’t mistake me for some crazy, living-through-my-child type dad. I think four is too young to start organized sports. My  oldest son did not start until he asked me to play, but my youngest watched his older brother play and absolutely loved it. Last year, at barely three, he was setting up the tee in the back yard, hitting the ball, and running bases all by himself (with his mom or me watching of course). So, when he was old enough to play it seemed like a crime to tell him he couldn’t.

Saturday was the first practice and he was awake and standing beside my bed with his baseball pants already on at 6:45 in the morning asking if it was time to play baseball yet.

It takes a lot of time but it is great time with the two coolest people that I know. On days when we have a game or practice in the evening, work seems to go a little quicker and even though the whole ordeal is tiring, it is a good tired.

I am proud to say that in the three years I have been doing this I have only missed one of my son’s games and that was because I was out-of-town. I was never that great at any type of sport and I am sure that watching me play was brutal at times but I don’t remember very many games, if any, that my father was not in the bleachers or dug out watching me. That has always meant a lot to me.

I am proud to say that this weekend will be the first that I will not have worked (in the office) since some time in February (I hope). And to top it all off I am taking Monday off.

A good friend has asked me to go to the Braves game – where Smoltz will make his season debut against two-time Cy Young winner Johan Santana- in Atlanta on Sunday afternoon, then we are going to take full advantage of Sunday liquor sales that afternoon, before crashing in A-town Sunday night. Monday morning we are headed to Augusta to watch some of the practice round for the Masters.

I couldn’t be more excited. Unless of course Alabama was playing Saturday. Wait, they are playing, albeit against themselves, next Saturday. Things are looking up.

This is easily my third favorite holiday. I realize that the day is much deeper than the drinking binges it has sent me on over the years but really I can firmly get behind a day where the sole purpose is to drink (another reason I love football season; there are 7 to 12 St. Patrick’s Days in a three month period – you’re drinking at 9:00 A.M. and the good thing is you’re supposed to be, so stop looking at me funny). And that is what I am going to do. Just as soon as I can fight my way out of the office this afternoon.

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day I am only listening to music about Ireland or by Irish people. So when I get sick of Van Morrison and U2 by about noon I ‘ll have to rethink that. And as my gift to you; The Dropkick Murphys

By the way, did you know that St. Patrick is the patron saint of Engineers?

Dropping that knowledge is just one more way I am trying to live up to my motto: PMR, not only is he fun, he’s educational.

Update: My man Gerry Dorsey has got the right idea.

The Board of Directors decided to mix things up a little bit and a new assignment has been made to the post of Minister of Propaganda. We thought this might be a little bit easier to manage than multiple mass emails, although you still might get one or two. Feel free to check back here for info and updates on the tailgate.

We’re back in full SEC action this week with one of the biggest rivalry games in college football; It’s the Third Saturday in October and that means that the putrid orange of the Tennessee Volunteers will be infiltrating our beautiful campus. The corporate office has put it to us so we are the 11:30 Lincoln Financial Game. But hey, on the bright side, if your in the stadium you won’t have to listen to the Daves tell us what the “most crucial point in the game” is.

So it’s breakfast foods (beer is a breakfast food, right?), Mimosas, and Bloody Marys for the early set. Nothing is set in stone yet but we have it on good authority that there will be sausage balls, biscuits, a breakfast casserole, and other assorted goodies. There is also a high probability that there will be something burning on the grill after the game.

Same place (the west side of the concrete half-circle in front of the Gorgas Library; between the cedar tree and the lamp post – squatters be damned) and same deal: bring your booze and an appetizer type dish and we’ll provide some fine victuals and the TV, shade and entertainment. Speaking of which, Snider has promised to “Crank that Soulja Boy.” So that should be fun.

Also CBS Sportsline columnist (and Vol fan) Clay Travis will be in town to see the game and promote pimp his new book, Dixieland Delight: A Football Season on the Road in the Southeastern Conference. Clay has been invited to tailgate and since he snubbed us last year and by his own admission owes us a beer we’re hopeful he will stop by and say hello.

Click the following link for a map (pdf) if you need it.

Tailgate Map

We’ll look for you on Saturday. Roll Tide and beat the Vawls!

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