OT: My Bye Week Experience (Tennessee Game)

Submitted by Generic MGoBlogger on September 28th, 2013 at 11:45 PM

So I spent my bye week rather well and was able to catch the Tennessee/South Alabama game in Knoxville today.  I live about an hour away from Knoxville and people were practically giving away tickets to the game, so I thought it would be a decent way to catch some live college football action.  The tickets I ended up getting were in the second row on the goal line which ended up being pretty cool.  The reason I'm posting this, though, is not only to share my experience, but it is also to share about Tennessee's fan and student support. 

The game started off looking like it could be a shootout with South Alabama scoring within the first three minutes, but by halftime, Tennessee had mounted a 24-7 lead.  Now Tennessee dating back to last season has had trouble filling the stadium (capacity of 102,000) and only got 87,000 today.  I guess it's understandable for a game against South Alabama, but this is one program that is really losing support.  Anyways at halftime, attendance didn't look bad considering the game.  After Tennessee scored again in the second half, South Alabama began a comeback. 

My biggest pet peeve during the entire game was the fact that fans began to leave when South Alabama began to make a game out of it.  It was almost as if fan morale and support just went down the toilet after South Alabama put together a couple of good drives. My next biggest was the student section.  It made our student attendance look amazing.  Never once were the students noticeably louder than the rest of the stadium, and they just seemed dead most of the game today.  Gaps in the section were plentiful and it was just atrocious. If you didn't know where it was located, you would never find it.

The fact that pretty much every Tennessee fan wore an orange Tennessee polo and wore khaki also kind of pissed me off.

While Tennessee did end up winning (On a goal line stand for the most part), it was a huge indicator of just how out of hand a program can get when they lose year in and out.  This was a program that consistently filled up when Fulmer was around, but for four or five years it just got out of hand with consistent losing seasons. This ultimately led to a huge drop in fan support.

So I just wanted to commend you all for not giving up on Michigan during the Dark Ages from 2007-2010. Michigan has one heck of a program and group of fans.


7 Minutes left in the 4th Quarter 

Edit: Forgot to talk more about the experience. Please disregard the stupid mistake. I'm not going to waste too much time with it as it was a decent but not amazing experience. I got tickets from a friend literally this morning for free, so we didn't do too much tailgating. The fans themselves were relatively nice, but like you would think, there was definitely a southern atmosphere that they created.  They are also extremely delsusional in the fact that they still think Tennessee is relevant considering the fact that they are in the SEC. Nothing too special about the experience out of the game, but I was very impressed with Tennessee's band. They did utilize a sound system, but overall they were very loud and produced a very crisp sound throughout the game. The game itself was very entertaining. Like I said earlier, Tennessee pulled out to an early lead and looked like they were going to run with it, but South Alabama made quite the game out of it scoring seventeen unanswered to cut it to a one touchdown lead. The game ended up coming down to the wire with Tennessee eventually winning on a goal line stand. So overall, I would say that in Tennessee, this probably could have been the best way to spend the bye week.




September 28th, 2013 at 11:56 PM ^

They used to be a power but have been completely overshadowed in all the SEC chest-thumping. It's not even like the don't recruit well, they've just been a disaster for years. We went through a similar dry-spell but pulled ourselves out of it. Tennessee is still buried neck deep in their crap, I am thankful for Brady Hoke today


September 29th, 2013 at 12:05 AM ^

They were good in the '90's and early '00's.  But before that, they were often mediocre.  Yet they were still well supported.  It's like their fans have now written them off for good. 

Michigan went through turmoil, and we are still digging out, but we never gave up as if there was no future.


Bando Calrissian

September 29th, 2013 at 3:01 AM ^

Tennessee got hot at precisely the peak of the Stadium Capacity Arms Race of the 90s-00s. And unluckily for them, they blindly went all-in. Every year, between us, Tennessee, and PSU, it was a constant struggle to throw in a few rows here or a bank of bleachers there. They ended up with a stadium to fit a fanbase they couldn't sustain, PSU ended up with a charming Erector set motif, and we got PSD's.

All around, it was the height of absurdity. God forbid you aren't the biggest stadium on the block...

snarling wolverine

September 29th, 2013 at 2:12 PM ^

I don't know about Tennessee or PSU, but we weren't nearly as rash as you're making us out to be.  We made three changes to our capacity in two decades: we added 800 seats in 1992, 5,000 in 1998 and then added the boxes in 2010.   That's not that many changes for a stadium built in the 1920s and which has periodically needed to be brought up to code anyway.  I think Yost and Crisler's capacities have changed more than that over the same time.

 I don't recall the rationale for the '92 addition (although I think it was related to us lowering the field to improve sight lines), but the '98 one came after student demand for tickets was so high that we had to offer split-season tickets to freshman, and of course we know the rationale for adding the boxes.

As for PSDs, they had nothing to do with the stadium expansion.  They're a trend around the country, regardless of the size of the stadium.  If anything, the expansion made them a harder sell, since you didn't have to make a PSD to get seats in the expanded endzone sections.  



September 30th, 2013 at 8:47 AM ^

Beaver Stadium really is a spectactle.  Ugly as sin and resembling something created by my three-year old nephew, but a sight nonetheless.  And when full to capacity (something not found lately), it is an intidimating venue.

I'll never forget how loud it got in 2008 as PSU roared back in the second half to annihilate Michigan.  Just defeaning.

Avon Barksdale

September 29th, 2013 at 12:03 AM ^

The fan base is atrocious as well.

The most arrogant ass-holes you will find for a team that hasn't even been decent in 7+ years.

They claim the "powerful SEC," and most of them really believe they'd go undefeated in the Big Ten.

And don't get them started on Charles Woodson...

Generic MGoBlogger

September 29th, 2013 at 12:11 AM ^

And it really suck being surrounded by them on a daily basis and having to listen to their constant crap.  But I wouldn't go as far to say they are arrogant because numerous fans I talked to today joke about their team and how bad they are.  It continues to piss me off though that they think being in the SEC counts as something.  

Perkis-Size Me

September 29th, 2013 at 2:28 AM ^

I'd bet that stadium fills up just fine when Florida comes to town. At the end of the day, a lot of people just don't want to come in and watch their team play a directional school.

But I see your point, though. Tennessee is a program in desperate need of a major breakthrough. They've had very little to cheer about for a long time, have gotten thumped by Florida for I think 8 years in a row, and it seems like a culture of mediocrity has been embedded in the minds of its fans.

Butch Jones might be the guy to get the program over the hump, but he needs some kind of validating moment; both for himself and the fans. I don't know, maybe an upset of Alabama, a big time bowl win, or something like that.


September 29th, 2013 at 4:20 AM ^

I don't think it's delusional of their fan base to expect them to compete at the highest level. They have won a national championship during the BCS era (albeit back in 1998). The program has the resources, recruiting clout, and tradition to compete with the Alabamas and LSUs of the SEC, but their athletic department seems to be very poorly run. Bad hires and bad leadership seem to be what's holding them back.


September 29th, 2013 at 4:39 AM ^

South Alabama,

in its second year as and FBS program.  Many of the 100,000 plus in Knoxville probably did not even know South Alabama had a football program until they appeared on the Vols schedule.  The geographically challenged among them probably didn't figure out South Alabama was located in Mobile, since Mobile is pretty much all there is in Southern Alabama it isn't that hard to figure out.


The Jaguars will play at Nebraska in 2015 and at LSU in 2016


September 29th, 2013 at 6:32 AM ^

From the OP: "The fact that pretty much every Tennessee fan wore an orange Tennessee polo and wore khaki also kind of pissed me off."

I don't get it.


September 29th, 2013 at 6:46 AM ^

Not only are these stories interesting in general, I think, but it is neat to get a small glimpse into fan psychology in other places.

I do wonder if it is a combination of playing a somewhat marginal school and blown expectations on the part of fans.  I believe someone said in passing yesterday that they were at the North Carolina game and something similar began to happen as East Carolina began to put something together. 


September 29th, 2013 at 7:55 AM ^

Thanks for the write up, OP. It got me to thinking about another reason why scheduling cupcakes may be backfiring on some teams: If you don't fill your stadium to capacity and then people leave early, suddenly a big stadium is not an as intimidating of an atmosphere.

I don't mean to imply that this the main reason for Tennessee's struggles against S. Alabama or ours against Akron or any of the other close AQ team vs. non AQ team, but a lot of these schools have been playing on the road against bigger teams for years but it has only been in the last few years have we seen attendance plateau or decline. Loud, diehard fans are less likely to be a factor when the rest of the seats are filled with people that got free tickets.


September 29th, 2013 at 12:53 PM ^

And, for the most part, I actually don't know too many bad UT fans. Most of them are pretty respectful, and most of them were excellent to commiserate with after the Alabama loss last year.  Also, every UT fan has an irrational hatred of Alabama/ LSU/ and Florida, which... out side of Columbus, is a pretty good trio to hate. 

Having said that, there are a large number of idiots (though I've only heard them on sports radio) who are really pissed off the university is trying to become a top-25 public university because they think thats why UT didn't get Gruden or some other big name coach. The fact that the athletic department is swimming in debt is some how attributed to the academic side, even though the academic side gives a million dollars from student fees to the athletic department every year and all the debt is caused in large part to their new facitlites (which are pretty sweet) and the fact that they have something like 6 fired coaches (plus a bunch of assistants) who are still on the pay roll.

Two things: 1) however much the whole khaki thing pisses you off  ought to be more than made up for by the southern girls in sundresses, which they ALL wear; 2) there is a reason that my user name used to be "Ihatsecfans": even VANDERBILT fans thought they would go like 10-2 every year in the Big Ten back when they were just awful. Once you get past their irrational SEC love (I know, I know, hard to do) they are pretty reasonable-ish. The best fans I know are Alabama fans, who seem to prefer not to talk about Alabama when they talk about College football. 



September 29th, 2013 at 2:54 PM ^

Went down to cbus for a friends birthday. He got me tickets to see the Ohio Wisconsin game (for free). Didn't spend a dime in that place and had my maize block m shirt on (under a nondescript gray hoodie). Second time at that god awful stadium. Sat in south end zone most of the game (under the huge scoreboard). End zone seats typically suck but what made it worse is that on the north side the video scoreboard is half the size of the ginormous one and is blocked by their cocky big flagpole.

They played seven nation army about every play of every drive the first half. If I never hear that song again I'll be happy. That stadium ruined it for me.

I hate that stadium. And I still hate Ohio