Good Ole Rocky Top, Rocky Top Tennessee…
I scored some Football Tickets from one of my coworkers for the Vanderbilt Commodores vs. University of Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium, Knoxville TN. This was UT’s last home game and came into the game undefeated at home. If UT won against Vanderbilt and then beat Kentucky on 11/24, they would miraculously go to Atlanta on Dec 1st to play for the SEC championship.
Our tickets were in the Upper Deck (XX2), 5 Rows up and near the goal line on the NorthWest Side. These were actually ideal seats. You could see everything that was happening on the field, the Jumbotron and the fireworks.
We arrived 45 minutes to kickoff and were able to see some of the pre game tradition. The Pride of the Southland Marching Band goes through their routine of making the different UT symbols, the fight songs then the “T” that the players run through. Since it was the last home game, it was Senior day and the departing seniors were recognized. It was wierd to hear some of the players named, people you never heard before, like the 7th string quarterback, and then there were the players that were injured at the beginning of the season and you were like “oh, yeah, he got hurt in the first game”. Then the popularity continued until the Senior Quarterback Erik Ainge. The crowd went wild. This was the same kid that got hurt as a freshman, then had a horrible sophomore season, rebounded in his Junior year and has been having a solid senior season.
Now, we actually had a couple of degrees of commonality between the two schools. My Lovely and Talented Wife both have degrees from UT, and when My Lovely and Talented Wife was an undergraduate student at Furman University, she was on the cheerleading squad. The Coach of the Furman University Paladins (and that’s FU 1 time) was no other than Vanderbilt Coach Bobby Johnson. So while the Vols were playing to staying in the championship hunt, the Commodores were trying to become Bowl [game] eligible (that’s to be able to play in the post season for those that are not familiar with Collegiate American Football).
Vanderbilt did a good job to silence the #3 stadium in the country (attendance at the game was 105,000+). At least for a while. Vanderbilt was leading 17-9 at the half and held the Vols through the 3rd quarter. A “roughing the kicker” penalty fired up the Big Orange Fans and UT began to come back. The penalty, plus the fact that Vanderbilt running game was being stifled either by gremlins or the paint on the field for the markers was higher than normal. It’s not too often that a running back, tackles himself in the open field, for a loss.
Phillip Fulmer is known to play conservative and did so by playing for a field goal, but it put the Vols up 25-24 with just a little bit of time left. The porous special teams let Vanderbilt return a punt into Tennessee Territory. The held Vanderbilt from getting any significant yardage and the game rested on the foot of the Vanderbilt kicker. From our angle, we couldn’t tell if the kick was good or not, but when the crowd behind the goal posts went ballistic, we knew that UT had dodged a HUGE Black and Silver bullet and had snapped the Commodore’s winning streak in Neyland Stadium to 1.
One thing that was kick of different was that we didn’t get any of the $500 hot dogs. Since we are on the Gluten Free diet, eating at the stadium was a little bit more difficult, but not impossible. We ended up getting a Box of $250 popcorn and a 20oz soda with a 1000% markup. Most expensive Coke Rewards Points I’ve paid yet!
However in the process of having a good time at the game, I managed to lose My Lovely and Talented Wife’s favorite gloves and NOT buy her the Cracker Jacks that she wanted (she loves surprises).