A little history for you. If anybody has heard my sob story before, just glaze down to the score 😉
I started watching and gaining an allegiance to Alabama football in mid high school. My family didn’t have any preference for college ball, only NFL (Saints…WHO DAT???!). However, my basketball coach, Coach Bryant and no relation to the man, the legend, the never-to-be-forgotten “Bear” Bryant, talked often about the Bear and his coaching style. In 1992, Alabama went undefeated and won the National Championship. In 1993, they went 9-3-1 (tie…with TN) although officially they had to forfeit 9 wins due to NCAA violation. That was my senior year. When I decided to go to a small Christian college in TN, I didn’t shake off my Alabama love. In fact, it grew stronger among the TN fans around me. In fall of 1994, they went 12-1. And then the bottom fell out.
I moved to Tn in the fall of ‘94. I left the state of TN in December of 2004. In those 10 years, Alabama had a serious “rebuilding” due to various coaching changes and the leftovers from NCAA violations which halted good recruiting. In those 10 years, Alabama lost to TN 9 years. NINE YEARS. 9.
And I clearly remember each and every one of them sitting in a dorm lobby with 1 of the 3 guys I dated…every one of them Alabama fans…or in my tiny apartment in Memphis. I remember the horrifying end and hearing the dorm or apt. complex screaming around me. This was during the Peyton Manning years. The years TN had a good run. And Alabama was struggling.
Little did I know then, but the man I married would one day move me to the front door of the University of Alabama. And little did I know then, but we would have the absolute best coach since the Bear as the current coach. Or that we would win 2 NCs in 3 years. I never dreamed I would one day visit Neyland Stadium and watch us devour the orange and white.
But I did. 🙂 AL 44—TN 13
Both sides of the game consider this game to be the 2nd biggest rivalry game. For us, Auburn is the absolute “must win” each season. TN is the second. In fact, the Bear considered TN to be his biggest rivalry over Auburn.
For TN, their biggest rivalry is both us and Florida. Both sides take this game seriously. There are rituals that must be played out. Dressing in ways that take an extreme amount of security is one of them.
After Alabama beats TN, the phrase “smoke ‘em if you got ‘em” is heard around the stadium. Cigars. Lots of cigars are lit up. I won’t post pics, but cigars did happen this weekend 😉 Some fine Cubans, if I say so myself. It seems a few players enjoyed the tradition as well.
Last year, I got to see Alabama beat up on TN here in Tuscaloosa. And while that was amazing in its own way, visiting Neyland and singing a few rounds of Rammer Jammer was quite literally, a dream come true for an avid sports fan like myself. It’s definitely a weekend I will never forget!