I am thoroughly enjoying Alabama football this year. That's not to say that I haven't enjoyed it in years past, but this year has been great so far. Maybe it's because we have done so poorly in the last several years and we are finally back on top of things. Regardless, it's a lot of fun.
A month or so ago, Mark Tyner, whose family sits beside us at Bryant-Denny, called and asked if I was interested in making the drive to Knoxville for the Tennessee game. We had no idea that Alabama would be playing well and that Tennessee would be so awful. I told Mark that I wanted to go and we got our tickets. The last time I had been to a game at Neyland Stadium was when I was in college, more than 10 years ago. So I was excited to be going back.
We left Friday morning about 11am. It was rainy and messy and pretty much stayed that way all day, but our Bama spirit kept us upbeat and persistent. Mark had a new GPS and was trying it out for the first time on a long trip. For some reason he called it Agnes. So the entire time we were gone, we were at the mercy of Agnes and just hoped she took us where we needed to go. And she did.
Our first stop was outside of Gadsden, where we ate at the Waffle House. We thought that would be easy and quick. I guess it was, although Mark's hash browns had onions in them and we had to wait for awhile for the waitress to come back to our table so he could tell her. It would seem that they had some Waffle House VIP coming in for a visit and our waitress had to make sure she had cleaned the bathrooms and windexed the front door before he arrived. We heard her telling the other waitresses all about it. While we were waiting her to finish the bathrooms so we could pay, we met an older man from Florida who was heading to the game as well. He struck up a conversation with us and I began to wonder if we would ever get back on the road. Eventually, we were able to get out of the Waffle House and back on track.
We made a detour outside of Chattanooga and took the back roads into Gatlinburg. It looked like the leaves were trying to change, but the weather was so dreary, we really couldn't tell a whole lot about them. We got into Gatlinburg about 6pm. Mark was determined to make it from Tuscaloosa to Gatlinburg on one tank of gas, and when we pulled in to the motel, his gas gauge said "0 miles to empty." We settled in and decided to get out and find some dinner. Guess who didn't take a jacket. Yup... that would be me. I had a polar-fleece vest, but nothing with sleeves. The weather Friday night in Gatlinburg was cold and wet. We found a TGIFriday's across the street from our motel and decided it sounded like a good place to grab some supper. After we ate, we walked up and down the street, looked in some shops, and basically just took in the sights and sounds. There were quite a few people dressed in crimson and white like we were, and we got several Roll Tide's.
The next morning, we got some breakfast and walked around in Gatlinburg some more. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and we could see that the leaves were indeed turning colors. I think that by next week, the leaves will be at their peak. My goodness they were pretty! We shopped a little more and then headed to Knoxville for the game.
It took a while to find parking. I forget sometimes how spoiled we are to have a regular parking spot for Tuscaloosa gamedays. We ended up parking at the First Baptist Church and walking to the stadium. I would estimate the distance to be about as far as from Tuscaloosa City Hall to Bryant Denny. Not terribly far. At one point, though, it seemed that we had dead-ended at a chain-link fence and a railroad track. Then we noticed people walking through the weeds and through a hole cut in the fence and then into the woods. I figured there was safety in numbers so we followed and came out at a large parking lot at the edge of the stadium. Mark said he wasn't going back that way after the game in the dark (but we did! Again....safety in numbers!).
We were heading to find Chris and Jessica outside our gate, when we realized that the team was about to arrive and unload. So we waited with several hundred other Bama fans, and whooped and hollered and cheered on the boys in crimson. Then we found Chris and Jessica. Jessica had discovered that the band was coming through just outside our gate, so we waited outside and cheered on our Million Dollar Band. After all that pep-squadding, we were hungry, so we decided to go on into the stadium and get some hotdogs.
The drinks at Neyland Stadium were the same size as the ones at Bryant Denny. The only difference was they were $2 cheaper! Yep, we pay $6 for a drink in Tuscaloosa! The hotdogs were the same price though, and are better in Tuscaloosa. They put everything on them for you at home.
The stadium was full, but definitely not packed. I remembered being very crowded when I was there before, but not this time. We spread out and had plenty of room.
Of course by the time we got into the stadium we were already sick of "Rocky Top." That situation did not improve until the 4th quarter. I'll admit that I was a bit worried at first about us winning the game. Tennessee seemed fired up and ready for us, and they started off playing well. But then the Tide rose up and put poor old Smokey back in his doghouse! It was a great game, and by the 4th quarter the Tennessee fans were streaming out of the stadium. The Tide won the game 29-9 and the Million Dollar Band did what they do best....Rammer Jammer! I tried to get a picture of the scoreboard, but wouldn't you know it, they reset the scores when the game was over.
So the big question after the game has been what will happen to Phil Fulmer, aka Fat Phil, aka Dr. Donut? Only time will tell.
We got home around 6 pm Sunday night. I really could have used a holiday on Monday.
UPDATE!!! Phil Fulmer Will Step Down!!!