For those of you that don’t know I moved to Knoxville just over a year-and-a-half ago. I made this move because I’m a Tennessee Vols fan. I grew up watching Tennessee football, and have bled Orange since the day I was born in January of 1988. Growing up I quickly developed a deep-seeded hatred for the florida gators. I got mad, and expressed dislike toward other teams when we faced them, but it was nothing compared to the blood-boiling levels of hatred I embodied and held in reserve just for florida.
It didn’t matter if we won or if we lost, if it was close or if it was a blowout, no matter what I despised everything about the university of florida and the town of gainesville. I always recognized that from a historical perspective Tennessee was a bigger rival with Alabama, but I just couldn’t get myself to churn up that same, raw dislike that’s there for florida.
In my lifetime Tennessee and Alabama have never been good at the same time. Since 1995 there have only been five game between the two schools that were decided by a touchdown or less, and we won three of those. In that same time period the biggest win we’ve had over florida was by 14 points in 2003, and the second biggest win was by just three points in 1998.
No matter how good our team was and no matter how bad florida’s team was they always managed to play us close and/or beat us. And as any gator fan will gladly remind you, our Vols never managed to beat them while Peyton Manning was here. On a side, note I could point out that Pistol Pete Maravich never beat the Vols while he was at LSU and considering basketball is a sport where it’s actually possible for one player to single-handedly win games I’d argue that’s more impressive. Maravich averaged OVER 44 points per game in college, but the Vols always stopped him, so don’t give me that crap about Peyton “not being able” to beat florida. That’s dumb and uneducated.
*Deep breaths… deeeeep breaths… breathe in, breathe out… okay, we’re good*
So my point is that I have always hated florida with ever fiber of my being. They disgust me and I despise them. I regularly cheer for Florida State and Miami just out of the hope that they will overtake the gators and start dominating the recruiting in the state of florida again. While florida is still by far my least favorite/most hated team in the NCAA there has definitely been a good number of schools that have crossed from the “indifferent” group in my mind to the “hate” group.
I think I have officially been consumed into the mindset of living within the borders of the SEC world.
It all started with when I first moved here. Shortly after that relocation, I was invited to start writing for 3SIB, the phenomenal blog surrounding the Tennessee/Alabama rivalry. In that experience I was submerged into the history that these two schools have with each other. I could feel the dislike rippling through the air when I would listen to the Tennessee half of the contingent talk about how much they hate Alabama. It was infectious.
I now hate Alabama.
It’s still not the same as florida but it’s there. Before I just recognized that they were technically/historically our biggest rival, but didn’t really feel it. Now I do and I cheer against them at every chance I get – except for when the play florida that is. As a matter of fact, I’m watching them playing South Carolina right now and am relishing the fact that they’re down 21 to 3 and just missed a short field goal.
Add Alabama to the list – the hate is growing.
Shortly after that, I wrote a post on this site outlining why I thought florida wouldn’t be as good that year (2009) as they were the previous year – and for the record, I was right. This provoked a most peculiar response. It wasn’t the response itself that was so bizarre, but where the response was coming from. I had Vanderbilt fans, Vanderbilt fans, get absolutely furious at these claims.
When I got into the debate with them it not-so-surprisingly turning into a Tennessee vs Vandy argument. I had always seen Vandy as the annoying little brother to Tennessee. They’re never as good as us at anything but they always want to beat us so badly. Every once in a while they’d get lucky and by some fluke of a chance they’d win but it was never enough even close to frequently enough for me to harbor any ill-will toward them.
Suddenly I found myself hoping that Vandy would lose every single one of the games that they play in -except to florida and Bama that is- just for the simple glory of proving those snooty Vandy fans wrong.
Add Vanderbilt to the list – the hate is growing.
Shortly after the season ended lane kiffin, who we had all rallied around and whose hands we placed the future of our program in jumped ship and went to usc. This was cowardly, disrespectful, disgraceful, insulting, and a proverbial slap in the face to the entire Big Orange Nation. I don’t even want to get into this, but suffice it to say that I know hate usc.
Add usc to the list – the hate is growing.
Not long after that the basketball season started to pick up and Kentucky was dominating the SEC. I remember anticipating that first game against them only to be disappointed by a nine-point loss. Later that season we upset them with they were the top ranked team in the nation with a nine-point win of our own. They got revenge in t he SEC Tournament however, when they laid a 29-point beat down on us.
I remember sitting at a friend’s apartment for a study group that we had put together for our math class last semester. There was a girl there that I’m pretty sure doesn’t know the first thing about basketball but she was born and raised here in Knoxville. We had ESPN on in the back ground and this was right around the time of Selection Sunday and she just randomly out “f*ck Kentucky! I hate them so much!”
This was after I had already been in Knoxville for almost a year and I can recall telling Bryan multiple times within that time that I was blown away by how much people here hated Kentucky. I had never given them much thought: “We’re historically good at football. They’re historically good at basketball. That’s really all there is to it.”
Boy, was I wrong. Again, being surrounded by such a consensus feeling is rather consuming. It’s invigorating. It makes you want to join the cause. If you’re from, let’s say, California and you go to Michigan or Ohio State for college, by the time you graduate from one you will end up hating the other. That’s just the way it works.
Add Kentucky to the list – the hate is growing.
Now over these past two weeks in the 2010 season my Vols have been embarrassed in very different ways. Last week in Baton Rouge we got embarrassed by a group of officials that I hope now struggle to look at themselves in the mirror out of shame and a guilty conscience. They handed LSU a win with a penalty that had NO impact over the play. Just like if a hold isn’t called that is far behind the play, this flag should have never been thrown.
Today in Athens the Georgia Bulldogs handed the Vols an embarrassing loss in the form of 41 points in three quarters. We had all sorts of turnover, miscues and mistakes that enabled a bad Georgia team to look like they were the 49ers team led by Steve Young and Jerry Rice. Except instead of Young it was Aaron Murray, and instead of Rice it was AJ Green.
We have a week off before facing Alabama and then South Carolina so I’m mad at both LSU and Georgia. LSU for beating us when we clearly had already won the game – already won as in literally already won, no time on the clock, we had more points, people were leaving the field. Georgia because they beat us in the only game that I thought we had a chance of winning in the month of October.
Add LSU and Georgia to the list – the hate is growing.
The list now includes florida, Alabama, Vanderbilt, usc, Kentucky, LSU and Georgia.
We can go ahead and tag Arkansas onto the list as well. When I was in eighth grade I went down to the Tennessee at Arkansas game in Fayetteville -keep in mind I was only 13 years old- and the jerks behind us poured his beer on me. I’ve always held that against Arkansas. So really they should have been the second team I listed but it didn’t really go with the theme of this hatred of other teams having grown since I moved to Knoxville.
Either way with Arkansas on the list that is now eight teams that I hate. As I said, I don’t hate them as much as florida, but I do hate them all. The only SEC schools missing from the list are Auburn (I know my dad hates them), South Carolina, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. I suppose for two of those four teams it’s only a matter of time before they join the club.