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I’ve got to admit that I’ve been caught up in the aftermath of the UT-Alabama game last Saturday. Kiffin keeps popping off at the mouth and like kids following the piper the UT faithful are right behind him.

The coach of the Volunteers  seems to be the definition of immature. He doesn’t like it when he doesn’t get his way and he’s going to make sure that everybody knows it. Ghostofneyland said it best when he stated, “Kiffin felt he needed to stand up and say something…” I believe that is the majority of Kiffin’s problem; he just can’t keep his mouth shut. He always feels he needs to say something, even when he would be better served by remaining silent. Maybe he is smarter than he looks and this is all a part of a master plan. If he keeps the hopes of Vols inflated with close wins and promises of what will be, they’ll be patient with him until he does win. I think it may even be working. From my brief observations the Big Orange Nation is too busy crying foul and lauding what will be to reflect on the actual record.

The down side to all his talk will be that his timer will run out much quicker. If the promised wins don’t come soon – I personally believe that he can’t back track to Georgia next season and needs to beat either Alabama or Florida or natives will start getting restless.

Right after the game I spoke with a great Tennessee fan. She didn’t tell me that UT could have or should have won, she didn’t say that the penalties (or lack of) or the headset malfunctions or even their lack of comparative talent cost them the game. She just said it was a great game.  She was absolutely right. She was the gracious fan that Kiffin must feel he can’t afford to be.

I’ve been through two truly awful streaks in my time pulling for Alabama. The seven years to Tennessee and the six to Auburn. The worst part of those was the feeling that it might get worse before it got better. The 365 days until our teams would meet again would be long but the possibility that a talent or coaching gap would make it longer than that was the really scary part. UT fans probably feel right now that in fifty-one weeks this wrong can be righted. Hope is better than the absence of it. Despite the fact we Alabama fans would prefer them dejected the Volunteers lost a game but gained some faith. In that at least, Kiffin did a good job.

This certainly isn’t a defense of Kiffin; I believe he’s a whiny douchebag whose eventual downfall is as certain as the enjoyment I’ll derive from its occurance. But Lane did help to give my favorite rivalry in the world a shot of Jaegarmister this weekend. Sitting on the good side of a three-year streak I think that is a pretty good thing.  I thank him for that.

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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.

Nine months after my last post, almost exactly two years after my first post, and the week of one of the absolute best things about college and Alabama football seems like a pretty good time to try out the internets again. So here I am.

In way of a brief explanation, as I shared with you about this time last year, my last official gig ended and I went out on my own. Things are going relatively well on that front but running a business is incredibly time consuming. Also, last winter I became a dad again (for the third time) and lack of sleep coupled with increased duties with the other two take up a lot more time. Finally, Alabama had a pretty good year last year and my level of contentment with “the process” allowed me to focus on other outlets.  I do this because I enjoy it and it fills a creative need but lately when the desire to write struck there seemed to be something else that “needed” to be done. I realize my tiny voice is one that is easily lost in the din but I do appreciate all the inquiries into my whereabouts. Thanks to you all.

So, I understand there is a game this weekend. What’s going on with that?

  • Tennessee wants to wear orange. While Saban tends to say things like jersey color don’t matter – and they don’t – I’m not at all surprised that the request was denied. Of course the Vols are going to say we’re doing the fans a disservice, but the fact remains that a.) Kiffin raided the coaching staff, b.) said coach has been lying to recruits, and c.) this is still Tennessee. So screw UT. Why extend to them any courtesy at all other than letting them have a locker room? They wouldn’t, and haven’t done the same for Alabama. I understand from off-the-record comments that Saban is not a fan of the Volunteers and I believe that the way Alabama has been prepared to play, and has executed against UT in his tenure lends that some credence so it makes sense that UT was not granted the concession. I say no quarter asked or given in this rivalry. They’ll probably end up in those gaudy orange pants anyway. Orange sucks, people! (Update: As usual, the guys at Bama Sports Report put it into perspective)
  • McElroy Struggling. G-Mac has, without a doubt, had two bad outings (against competent defenses) after some pretty good outings (against less than stellar defenses). I’m not ready to bench him though. I’m not even ready to verbally abuse him by comparing him to other, less-than-good quarterbacks, like another Alabama blog writer who tends to overuse the word “nevertheless” and speaks of the team in the first-person.  I don’t think McElroy was quite as good as the early season success showed, nor do I think he is as bad as his last outings would indicate. Despite Monty Kiffiin’s (bow in awe, people) vaunted defense I think we’ll see a little more regression to the mean this week. Meaning we won’t see as much forcing to Julio, a little more Colin Peek and Marquis Maze, and a steadier reliance on play-action. McElroy will be alright. Aight!
  • Tennessee Overall. I’ll preafce by saying this: anything can happen. Anything. UT could come in here and play the game of the decade and beat Alabama. But it isn’t very likely. This is not a good football team and there is no way around that. Tony Barnhart called this out as a trap game in the summer. But part of his premise was that UT would be winless in the conference. As you all know they aren’t. Beating a dreadful Georgia team hurt them more, in the context of this weekend’s contest, than anything. There wasn’t much chance that Alabama would overlook this UT team anyway but the big win in Knoxville ten days ago only served to make sure everyone was paying attention. As Mike Strange points out, UT’s first half  body of work doesn’t look near as good as it did. SEC Offenive Player of the Week aside, Crompton is not a good QB and the Alabama defense should make that very evident. Hardersty is a great back, but Alabama’s run defense  is no slouch either. The defense’s ability to nuetralize Crompton and make the game one-dimensional should effectively negate Hardesty (and super-frosh Bryce Brown as well). Things get a little more dicey with Alabama’s offense versus Tennessee’s defense. While statistically, they are a good defense, Auburn – yes the same Auburn that was just run over roughshod by Arkansas and Kentucky – lit them up like a Christmas tree. As I said, anything can happen, but if Alabama holds onto the ball and McElroy takes just one step back towards averages, we should be singing “Rammer Jammer” by mid fourth quarter.

By all accounts this should be a great week, and to a degree it is. Let me rephrase that. This is an awesome week, there is just so much going on that I can’t slow down enough to enjoy it as I typically do.

Alabama is seven games into the season and has not lost yet; Tuscaloosa, as I was telling a friend a day or two ago, is a much better place when Alabama is wining.

This Saturday, Alabama will travel to Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee and play the Volunteers. This is the game that embodies everything great about college football to me.

The first anniversary of this blog’s existence passed without fanfare last week. I’ve been faithful to this for one year and I am still entertained by it and excited about the future it might have.

With all that going on I should be beside myself with anticipation and excitement. The truth is there is so much going on in the world of truly important things that I haven’t been able to sleep and eat properly, much less concentrate on things that I enjoy – like football and this blog.

Sometimes you have to make tough decisions that affect not only you but a few others. And then sometimes you ask a few questions that you already know the answers to and react. The latter has what has happened to me over the last week-and-a-half.

I have been a partner in a business venture and after two-and-a-half years it became completely apparent that the goals we had set for ourselves would not be realized. My options came down to financial ruin, at least in the short term, or striking out on my own (with the distinct possibility of financial ruin). I did what anyone in my situation did and struck out on my own. It has been an amazing few days that were broken up by a football game.

As of Monday, I am the sole member of an LLC and have been gathering support and resources ever since. The response from friends, advisers, and clients has been amazing. I’ve got a great attorney, a great accountant, a great insurance agent, a great computer guy, and multiple friends that have been there for me every step of the way.

This has and will dominate my life for the next several weeks. That’s OK, in fact, that is how it needs to be. The downside is I will have very little time for blogging.

So I’ve been here over a year now. Yeah for me! Instead of the post to commemorate that (which I will do later) you can search to archives if you want to relive something.

Also, instead of a new post on how I loathe Tennessee and yet love the game played between them and my beloved Tide you can reread this and just change any words out that are indicative of the location of the game for this edition.

Don’t worry, I won’t be far away.

Alabama 41 – Tennessee 17

This one will remebered for a long time. I don’t have a voice left, my calves hurt from jumping up and down all day, I’m tired, and I’m dehydrated from the victory drinks. In short, I hurt. But ain’t it a good hurt?

I’ll take a few days to enjoy this one and enjoy the coming weekend away from football as I take a family vacation in the mountains of, wait for it… East Tennessee.

The tailgate will be back in two weeks in full, effecient, operating mode for our vist from “the Hat” and LSU. This is gonna be fun.

Check back for updates.

First off, thanks for the comments and emails. The response these first few days has been outstanding…

It has reached the point on Friday afternoon when production has ground to a halt and all thoughts have turned to the game. There are a few prep items left like appetizzer production and beverage cooling but from this point on it’s all build up to walking through the other tailgaters on the Quad, down University Blvd, across the Walk of Champions plaza, up the spiral ramp and into my seat just in time to hear – “People ask me what I want to be remembered as and I tell ’em a winner, cause I ain’t never been nothing but a winner,” the sweet refrains of “Sweet Home Alabama (Roll Tide Roll!)” and now my new favorite, “Tide, get-ready-to-roll-Tide, get ready to roll!” There is the distinct possibility that I will burst a blood vessel and die as the team takes the field one of these days, but as much as I love The Third Saturday in October, it would be, as they say, a good day to die.

The RVs are here. The humidity has been drained out of the air and the sky is clear (thanks to the thunderstorms yesterday) and that intangible electricity is viscous in the air. What little bourbon induced sleep I get tonight will be filled with visions of Crimson and Orange and touchdowns and sacks and interceptions and… “Hey Vols!… We just beat the hell out of you, rammer-jammer-yellow-hammer, give ’em hell Alabama!”

The game plan is set. There is but one thing left to do…

GET LOUD!!

This Saturday, October 20, the third Saturday in October, has been circled on the calendar for a long time. Actually it has been circled on most of the calendars that I own for a long time. This game is special. It always has been, at least to me, and that is because on that date The University of Alabama Crimson Tide meet the University of Tennessee Volunteers in one of the grandest of southern traditions.

It is Tradition. It is Rivalry. It is the epitome of College Football. And I cannot get enough of it.

This is the game I think of in the off-season when I think of football, and that is quite a lot. It is the game that hurts worse to lose and brings more joy to win. Hearing Rocky Top during defeat is that much more painful or Rammer Jammer after a victory is that much sweeter. Everything builds to that one day and on that day, everything else stops.

Maybe I’m crazy to put such importance on one single game and one single opponent and there are certainly others in Crimson Tide fandom who disagree with me but it is the pinnacle in my book and in a few other’s books as well; Holly, an occasional contributer to EDSBS and of Ladies… fame, and unabashed UT supporter agrees with me and has said so(at least in print) before I did. This game means so much to some that they keep a whole blog devoted to it.

Why all this fuss? See, first of all you have to know a little about history. Auburn, who most people assume, and who certainly has a claim, to be Alabama’s biggest rival has not really come into their own only recently. Sure, they had a few good runs, but the two Alabama schools didn’t even play that contest for 41 years in the early part of last century and after Coach Bryant came on board the series got kind of lopsided for a while. Beating them wasn’t such a big deal. But it’s much more than that because while Auburn is across the state and bragging rights are important, the annual contest with Tennessee typically has had far bigger stakes, like conference or national titles. For the kiddies, Alabama has not always been the model of mediocrity that they have been for the last decade. A quick looks at the stats show that in the SEC, Alabama has been outstanding and our closest competition is the second team there in the conference title and win columns:Tennessee. Sure, recently, and this year especially, this game does not have the national significance that it used to, and all it takes to confirm that is that the “Daves” will be calling this one, but that doesn’t keep it from being a great game.

Other than actual recorded history, there is also my personal history with this game. The first one I went to was in 1995 at Legion Field. I was student at the Capstone at that time and we had not lost to UT in ten years. I was as fired up about a game as I have ever been. Well, in case you don’t remember, we lost that day. Peyton Manning threw for like 6,000 yards, most of which came on the first play.

I was sick. Like the way I am now after watching that again only many times worse and with a beer buzz. The next day, the mother of a friend of mine, who was a Vol fan, sent me a sack of oranges. I don’t even like oranges so as they sat there for a few weeks rotting it was a constant reminder about how sound that defeat was and how much it hurt.

Since that game I have only missed one and that was the next year in Knoxville. There were seven straight years of misery, punctuated with UT students taunting us as my pregnant wife and I left the ’00 game in Knoxville and the one we were leading going into the 4th quarter in ’01 which was and probably will be the only game I will attend with my Mother-In-Law (I mean that in a good way; I really love her. No, seriously, I do) and we sat in agony as Tennessee snatched away the victory. Winning there in ’02 was a highlight of my fan resume’ as was this jewel:

One of the things that has made the rivalry so interesting is the interactions with UT fans. I’m not joking. For the most part we have been treated well by fans in Knoxville (excluding the pregnancy game). The parents of a friend of ours are big Vol fans and they (I should really say her mom) kept it spicy for a while. When our first child was born they sent some white leather baby shoes with a big orange “T” embroidered on them. The attached note said “May his first steps be toward God’s Country.” Needless to say he never wore them. Then one year when we were adding on to the office she went to the Home Depot and had them mix a quart of Tennessee Orange paint, then she had a friend custom make a label with a big “T” on it. The note said, “I thought you might want this for your new office.” We’ve gotten UT cocktail napkins and sundry other UT paraphernalia and then after the ’03, 14 overtime calamity she sends huge blow up posters of her wearing the “Volun-tears” t-shirt I sent her the previous year holding a “before” before sign and another with her decked out in her orange holding an “after” sign. I’ve still got all the stuff. I think it’s great. That, my friends is how a rivalry is done with class. Miss Maxine, you’re the best, even if you are a Vol.

One of the other great things about the game is that you can tell that fall has definitely arrived. The air is usually clear, hopefully with a little chill (maybe not this year- Thanks Al Gore!) but it just seems like football weather. Driving through Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Alabama you can see most of the turning leaves are the same color as the Crimson and orange jerseys and helmets. It is also usually when I declare open season on bourbon after swearing it off in the hot, summer months. It’s just the best thing about the best time of year.

And so it is upon us again. While we throw words around like hate, I don’t know of a single true fan that really hates another person over a football game (Phil Fulmer is a definite exclusion). Sure we loathe the opposition on this day and will be quick with barbs and sarcasm but at the heart of it when civil conversation starts with another fan who loves his university as much as you, deep down, wouldn’t you rather be shaking hands, and complementing running backs or linebackers and campuses with someone who actually knows something about competition and winning? I know I do. I want the UT fans to enjoy our town, campus, stadium, and atmosphere and remember us as classy, gracious hosts. So do your part Alabama. But above all I want all the Vol faithful to leave here remembering one thing:

Roll Tide! Beat the Vawls! We’ll see you on the quad.

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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