Neyland Stadium: University of Tennessee

Orange Crush: My Love for the UT Vols Runs Deep

Most of you regular readers know I’m a University of Tennessee alum and avid Vols fan.

This is not the year to spout such bold claims. Take, for example, the empty Neyland Stadium (which used to be the nation’s second biggest sports stadium seats-wise, but thanks to renovations, has dropped to fourth).

And I’ll be the first to admit, we suck this season. We really royally suck (luckily, Fulmer’s heading for the door, so maybe next year will be better). Still, that didn’t prevent me from showing my colors and heading to beautiful East Tennessee for homecoming ’08. At least the Smokies in the fall is absolutely stunning. At least there’s that.

I flew into Nashville, where LP (college friend, NYC roommate) recently relocated to; after staying with her in Green Hills for a night, we drove to Knoxville the following afternoon.

We stayed with my sister in her sorority dorm–excuse me, DORM-STYLE APARTMENT–and immediately stopped at the gas station for two six packs, because we were going to an alumni reception that night full of everyone who ever worked at the daily newspaper in town. This meant we needed to start drinking early to calm our nerves, but (sister) Kari (still working on her for a guest post!) called to remind us that we needed to smuggle our beer in via our overnight bags (this is the part where I insist that she lives in a dorm not apartment like she claims). Not gonna lie, we felt super cool–especially when the guy at the gas station carded us.

Glenn, another BFF from my Knoxville days, also crashed at Kari’s. He lives in Atlanta now, and he wears a fedora!

Don’t worry, SVV, he’s gay (kidding, Glenn, kidding). And then there was the reconnecting with Cheryl, who is hands down the craziest person I have ever met in my life (and also repeat title holder of “Best Legs in Knoxville”–I only wish I were joking).

After our Friday night alumni party at Barley’s, we headed down the street to a new bar, Crown & Goose, where the drinking recommenced. Shots all around!

Then, it was moving on again, this time to hippy-dippy-trippy Urban Bar, where I realized I could never live here again. Although that little no-smoking-in-public-establishments law supposedly went into effect in TN last year, it doesn’t apply to bars (how dumb is that?). So despite the fact that I’ve never smoked a single cigarette in my life, all of my clothing now smells like I just returned from a week at Burning Man.

The next morning, we went to an open house in the newsroom. Being the dork that I am, I insisted on a picture in my old desk. Come on, people, this is where my journalism career was born! I made LP and Glenn do the same; they were less than enthused.

While we lost the game miserably–um, it was HOMECOMING, which typically means you play a pathetic team and will win no matter what; NOT this time–we still tailgated in style.

Which meant Miller Lite and PBR and all kinds of gross.

Then Jeanie (the mom) broke out the airplane bottles of Jack Daniels and didn’t bring along enough for her favorite daughter. How rude!

My cute little sister showed up in black. Since when is that one of the university colors?!?

LP, Glenn, Lahla (pictured above, punching Glenn) and I sat with my dad–a huge sports fan, who spends every weekend in the fall driving to Knoxville or Auburn for game day–at Neyland. He was so disgusted in the second quarter that he got up to go to the bathroom. “If I don’t return, I’ve gone to the bar.” We found him five hours later at Calhoun’s on the river.

After eating there ourselves, we checked out the Market Square renovations (and their fine brews, too), and I got to meet up with her:

That would be Laura W., who I lived with for two years and college. We haven’t seen each other in 3.5 years, but picked right back up where we left off.

The next morning, after another post-3am bedtime (I’m getting too old for this no-sleep bidness), I bid adieu to my pals, and my sister drove me out to our Uncle Tom’s Cabin. He’s my grandmother’s big brother, and it took my mother, her cousin Tommy and his partner Teresa to prevent him from eating Kari and my blueberry pancakes until we could get here (he’s on a strict diet thanks to old-age diabetes, but that didn’t stop him from trying to sneak a whole plate of bacon behind their backs!). He also has about seventy billion dogs, so I’m in heaven when we visit him.

Kari drove us the three hours back to Tullahoma yesterday, because we’re all about to head over to the funeral of a dear friend who unfortunately passed away unexpectedly last week. On the way back, we stopped at my grandmother’s grave to say hello. And then went by our old house, which we still own because have you heard that the housing market sucks at the moment?

But hey, the leaves sure are purty. Tennessee, don’t ever change.

  • November 10, 2008

    THOSE LEAVES! Wow, wow, wow. This is exactly how it looks when I go home to, only there are no changing leaves.

    I love old friends, college football, and wacky parents.

    We missed you on the big day but I’ll show you pictures when you get back!

  • November 10, 2008

    What beautiful fall colors. Sorry about the sad news, but I’m glad you were reunited with so many old friends.

  • November 10, 2008

    Um, too.

  • November 10, 2008

    The true test of any Southerner is the ability to dress for 80 and 30 on the same day!

  • November 10, 2008

    Everybody’s Homecomings seem so fun. I KNOW mine would be hella boring. My college was boring.
    Plus, no football team.

    …but we did have a duck pond.

  • November 16, 2008

    loving the shot of you and lil-k shouting outloud, expressing with a sprawl that which the leaf is telling us. FALL IS HERE!

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