This post is sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011.
Thirty years of Vanderbilt football (roughly). Here are my top three moments. Unsurprisingly, they're from the last five seasons.
#3 - Vanderbilt vs Auburn - 2008
How does arguably one of the most hyped Vanderbilt football games ever not go into the list? Here's the (brief and vague) play-by-play from that day:
7:30am - Arrive at campus and sift way through ESPN Gameday security. Wait for pre-Gameday SportsCenter spot. Scream.
8:45-8:59 - Survey the size of the crowd, soak in atmosphere. Recognize the sheer improbability of the events that are coming to pass. Marvel.
9:00 - Gameday begins. Scream. Cheer. Scream. Boo. Scream. Cheer. [Repeat for an hour and a half]
9:30 - Beginning to go hoarse. Tone it down. Become aware of likelihood of traffic logistics nightmare upon exit. Executive decision to leave now.
9:45 - Head to Harris Teeter at corner of Blair and Hillsboro Road. Purchase tailgate arsenal: various meats, chips, beer, charcoal, etc.
10:15 - Head home. Season meats. Package into containers. Pack into coolers along with ice and beer. Load car.
11:00 - Arrive at Vandyville. Detach grill from trailer hitch. Reattach wheels to grill. Transport grill to tent in Vandyville.
11:10-5:30 - Tailgate. Remnants of voice completely gone. I can still scream but it burns.
5:45 - Begin to pack up anything I would be pissed to have stolen. Reattach grill to trailer hitch.
6:00 - Make way into stadium, up stands into seats.
Of course, at that point, the game had just started. And what a game it was. Vanderbilt ended up going up late, and sealed it off with a Myron Lewis interception. I kept yelling until it tasted like blood. It was awesome.
#2 - Vanderbilt vs. Boston College - 2008 Music City Bowl
There's no vague play-by-play for this one. I was pretty sober. I sat in the club level seats at LP Field (my company's dime). And it was so cold my [insert favorite genitalia nickname] nearly fell off. It was miserably cold. And frankly, the game was boring until the very end. But it was a bowl victory over a ranked opponent (even if that opponent came from the ACC) that ensured Vandy would have its first winning season since 1982. There was no screaming. No yelling. Just a single tear of joy/relief. That promptly froze on my face.
I'm pretty sure the only thing I will remember about this game in thirty years is the cold. You don't forget that kind of miserable.
#1 - Vanderbilt vs. Tennessee - 2005
Firstly, I was there. And it was awesome. I saw Commodore fans openly weep. All the years of oppression at the hands of obnoxious UT fans (disclaimer: not all UT fans are insufferable, but a shitload of them are) WERE WORTH IT for this entire 48 hour experience.
I went with some college buddies, one of which grew up and lived in Knoxville. There are lots of hybrid Vols/Commodore fans (h/t: VolnVA), and this guy was probably more VU than UT. Nonetheless, he was UT enough to take us out on some boats in the Volunteer Navy pre-kickoff. Our hosts were gracious, in the true Southern tradition, and we certainly overstayed our welcome, to the point where we missed kickoff.
Walking to the stadium, we heard the faint cheer of what had to be Vandy fans and the collective groan of the UT faithful. Vandy had drawn first blood. I silently prayed for this to be a good omen.
It was. Our tickets came from our Knoxville college buddy. Mid-level seatbacks. Walking the stairs to them, I noticed EVERY SINGLE PAIR OF EYES from UT fans were on us. The feeling of being so out of place was a nice juxtaposition to the graciousness of the earlier boatgate (? - is that what it's called - VolnVA, I'm looking at you here).
The game continued on. Vandy would score another touchdown to lead 14-0. UT would battle back, and ended up taking a 24-21 lead with around two and a half minutes to play. Jay Cutler to Earl Bennett (basically) four straight times took the Commodores down the field, leading to a VU TD and the score VU 28-24 UT with a minute or so to play.
Where the UT fans around us were uncomfortable in their seats before, now they were writhing like snakes. The dirty, evil snakes that they were. UT did manage to threaten to win, but the final play was intercepted. Vandy won. UT fans streamed out, irritated and in disbelief.
The small Commodore contingent made its way to the visitors locker room entrance and celebrated with the players as they each came out to get on the bus.
My career VU-UT Knoxville record was leveled at 1-1.
What are your most memorable memories?