i was going to entitle this “Disgusted,” but that seemed unbecoming to me.
From sometime in the late 40’s until 1969, i was a UT Vols football fan. i attended enough games to fall in love with the game they played in orange jerseys with white numerals, white pants, white helmets, ankle top black shoes and not a sign of anybody’s name. They ran the single wing and had magic names, most notably for me, Johnny “The Drum” Major, and the Canale brothers. I was such a fan when Vanderbilt beat the Vols, 7-0 in 1964 in Nashville, my fraternity would not let me and several other hardcore Vol fans back into our fraternity house.
In November 1969, i took an extra liberty day from my ship, the USS Hawkins (DD 873) in Norfolk to fly to Knoxville where other Vandy friends picked me up to attend the Commodore-Vol game. One of my best friends was a Vandy defensive back. At the time, even though UT had given up the single wing, high top black shoes, and came up with a bunch of different uniform color combinations with players names on the back of the jerseys, i still had mixed emotions. i rooted for both but would root for Vandy in head to head matches.
There were about a dozen of my friends and i sitting in the east end zone of Neyland Stadium, named after a football hero of mine. Having little time, i was still in my Navy service dress blue officer uniform. Shortly after the game began, Vol fans behind us began to yell obscenities at us and then began throwing stuff at us. In the second half, these “fans” began to throw drinks at us, colas, beers, and whiskey including the paper cups or cans. And i was in my Navy uniform. It was soaked and reeked of beer and whiskey.
i quit being a Vol fan.
Then i came out west. i wanted all three of my Tennessee teams, Vandy, UT, and MTSU to do well in football — there are other stories about basketball and other Tennessee schools for later posts — Again, i rooted for both the Commodores and the Vols until they played each other.
i have many good friends who are big Vol fans who are gracious people.
But last night, when a correct spot of a tackle didn’t go the Vols way against Ole Miss, idiot fans threw golf balls — and anyone who brought a golf ball into the stadium with the intention of throwing it at somebody has become unbalanced — water bottles, and trash at Ole Miss players and coaches. The Vols lost. And their fans lost my respect for them and their team. Sure, other college nuts could do it. But those other out of control fanatics aren’t the team i once loved. The Majors and the Canales are probably crying now at such a terrible representation of their school and their state.
i know i am.