Oh the Neyland Stadium student section...how you love to make me so exhausted and unhappy. So much so in fact that in recent years I have come to avoid you at all costs...that is if I can do so without committing social suicide. Why UT students, why must you be so numerous and ant-like on game days? And why must you create such crowds amongst those oh so uncomfortable bleachers? Why must you insist on standing the entire game? And why the whiskey-spiked Cokes? They just never end in good times...
I have become very good at rattling off this ranting list when it comes time to present my excuse for not attending each and every home game during football season. It breaks my heart, too, because it was not long ago that college football was one of my favorite things in life. I used to love going to games with my family, tailgating at our usual spot, experiencing the overwhelming rush of excitement that is Neyland Stadium. For some reason, though, as soon as I actually became a Tennessee Vol myself, it was suddenly so much harder to mean it when I cheered how "great" it was to be one.
I must admit, I didn't even really care about the newness and excitement surrounding the new coach this year. The most interesting aspect to me was the cool fact that Lane's oldest daughter attends the pre-school where I work, meaning I kind of have a long and strange but totally valid connection to someone somewhat famous, or at least well-known. Still, though, in keeping with the general trend of what college students are "supposed" to do, I bought a ticket for today's game and tried my best to not completely dread it. And I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, there were moments of utter exhaustion. Yes, my legs currently feel like I might have just run a half-marathon. And yes, at times I probably looked like I had just jumped in a pool thanks to the sweat pouring from my body. But those things are to be expected at these things, and overall I still had a really good time.
So that is what I'm calling the good news: the fact that there is still hope for me and my dying love of America's game. I yelled and screamed and cared (which is big), and it made for a great day and a definite thrill. Unfortunately, though, as you can see by the second part of this post's title, there was a bit of bad news on this day as well. And if you turn on SportsCenter right now you could probably hear about Crompton's multitude of interceptions (I lost exact count) and soon after the sad score of UCLA-19, Tennessee-15 will flash across the screen, and there you will find the bad news. We were so close...I mean just one more yard kind of close...but aren't we always, right?
At least I felt a negative emotion as a result of the outcome, however. I'll confess to secretly pulling for a loss on game days during my freshman year, as a win meant people would be crazy happy, which would lead to crazy parties, which would thus make me feel more like a loser and probably have a harder time sleeping in a peaceful environment. But it was still a bummer that we couldn't capitalize on our blowout victory last week. I just hope Kiffin is hot on the trails of many a mind-blowing high school quarterback, because good grief we need a good one. Maybe by next year we'll find one...hopefully I'll still be interested in attending a game by then.