Tag Archives: Butch Jones

The Orange Side of Savannah, Georgia

26 Jul

Last week, we spent some time in Hilton Head, South Carolina, but, in my mind, the best day consisted of a drive to Savannah, Georgia, the settlement established by James Oglethorpe when he first colonized the area. It is an old city with lots of history, and we rode a trolley through it all.

We saw the squares for which the city is famous filled with Live Oaks with Spanish Moss hanging from the branches. Each square is surrounded by a church and stately homes. One home was the headquarters for William Tecumseh Sherman when he captured the city on the completion of his march to the sea. Another home belonged to the family of Johnny Mercer and was the site of a murder that inspired Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – both the book and the movie.

Since movies were brought up, we saw where Forrest Gump sat on a bench and told his life story but missed an entire square because Adam Sandler was in the process of filming a scene. I was hoping to see where Burt Reynolds filmed parts of Gator, but the tourism folks do not promote that one as much as others.

We saw a lot of interesting places. The location of John Wesley’s first sermon in the New World. The docks where cotton was loaded onto ships bound for England. Of course, no one mentioned the slaves who worked the cotton. To make up for that lack of information, we saw a building used by the Underground Railroad.

Savannah is a beautiful city of architectural wonders and almost three hundred years of history. It was also filled with people trying out for American Idol. Unfortunately, I did not get any pictures of that stuff. Our trolley ride made photography difficult. No pictures of Live Oaks. No pictures of monuments or statues.

However, I was able to take a picture of this place.image-44

When it was time for lunch, I asked the man at the visitor center counter a simple question.

“If you were going to lunch where would you go?”

He started down the typical list that included Paula Deen’s and other places where tourists are directed. I knew that he would not pick any of those places but could not deviate from the script. We wanted to eat with the locals, and this guy offered no help.

On the trolley ride, we passed a place that looked like what we wanted. Clary’s Cafe had a few outdoor tables and was off the beaten path. It did not take long to choose that over standing in line at one of the other places. We got out the trusty GPS and made our way through the squares and around Adam Sandler.

We pulled into the parking lot and made our way to the door. However, my wife was nowhere to be seen. She was standing behind the car talking to someone. It turned out to be the owner of the restaurant who saw the orange T on the front of my vehicle. For those who are not from around here, that is my signal to everyone that I am a fan of the University of Tennessee. As it turns out, the owner was also a fan of the Big Orange.

We talked for a while about the upcoming football season and the orange shrine her husband built at their home. They are from Tennessee and make it to as many games as they can. She has high hopes for the upcoming season and thinks Butch Jones has the program on the right track.

Eventually, we made our way inside and found what we were looking for. Sweet tea was in the pitcher, and lima beans were part the day’s special. It was a true southern restaurant that did not involve a television personality. However, that was not the best part.

As we finished our meal, the owner told the waitress to give us the Big Orange discount. After all, we were part of her college football family.

Tennessee Traditions

16 Aug

I am a fan of the University of Tennessee, and that has been a rough experience in the past few years. While most Tennessee fans follow several sports, the university is considered a “football school”, and the football team has gone through the worst seasons in its history. Coaching changes. Bad losses. Few good wins. To put it bluntly, it has sucked.

Now, there is a new coach, Butch Jones, who is trying to breathe some life back into the program. He has hit the recruiting trail. He has reached out to fans and former players. Every fan I know thinks he has done a fantastic job – until yesterday. That’s when he unveiled a new uniform that the team will wear for a couple of games.Uniform

Immediately, the howls began from fans who said the uniforms were terrible. Reading Twitter and message boards, people typed over and over about how this was destroying Tennessee tradition. The team is Orange and White – not some charcoal gray.

This made me start thinking about some of the Tennessee tradition that they were talking about. My dad started taking me to football games when I was 6 years old. That was in the mid-70s. Since that time, I have been lucky enough to attend almost every game, both home and away. I have experienced the traditions of Tennessee, and they have become a big part of who I am. However, all of those traditions had a beginning. There was a first time that each one happened. I wonder what fans during those times thought about this new things that was being introduced.

Orange Jerseys – The team first wore orange on the field in 1922. Before that, they probably wore some color like gray. Oh, wait. I wonder if some fan sat in the stands and said, “This is a man’s game. Why are they wearing orange? It looks like those flowers over there.”

T on the Helmet – Have a big T on the side of the helmet is a Tennessee tradition. It started in 1964. I don’t know if anyone complained about it. However, Johnny Majors became coach in the 1970s and CHANGED THE T!!! It was blasphemy, I say.

Running Through the T – One of the most exciting times as a Tennessee fan is when the team runs onto the field through a giant T formed by the band. I guarantee that every fan dreams of doing it. The tradition began in 1965. That means Tennessee played football for 70 years before the team ran through the T. I bet some fan said, “Why are they making them run across the field like that? They should save their energy for the game.”Running Through the T

Rocky Top – This is one of Tennessee’s most famous traditions. Throughout a game, the band plays and the fans sing “Rocky Top” dozens of times. Opposing coaches and players have talked about how it drives them crazy. This song has become synonymous with Tennessee football. It was first played at a game in 1972. Before that, fans heard spirited renditions of “Down the Field”, the official fight song. I can hear it now. Some fan says, “We’ve been playing ‘Down the Field’ forever. It’s a tradition. I can’t believe they are playing this hillbilly music.”

Checkerboard Endzones – I saw a poll that said Tennessee’s checkerboard endzones are one of the most famous traditions in college football. They first appeared in the 1960s, then were taken away for a while. This is a tradition that wasn’t even thought enough of to keep around. I bet some fan said, “This ain’t checkers. It’s football, by God.”

The Vol Walk – This is a tradition that a lot of fans love. They line the street as the players walk to the stadium. It’s a long-held tradition that started IN MY LIFETIME! Nevertheless, it is a tradition.

I wrote all of that to say that traditions have to start somewhere and that the traditions of the program have always changed. There is a first time for everything, and, sometimes, that leads to something that people value for years to come. However, without the introduction we never know.

Here’s the bottom line for those who hate the new uniforms. It was not done for the fans. It was done for the current and future players. Guess what, they all love it. One recruit said the uniform was prettier than his girlfriend.

As I wrote at the beginning, the program has gone through hard times. Today’s recruits don’t remember that Tennessee won the first BCS title. They don’t know Heath Shuler, Condredge Holloway, Hank Lauricella or George Cafego. What’s more, they don’t care.

Here’s something else, all of those other traditions were probably started for the players, too. If I remember my Vol history, then the program struggled through the early 1960s. A young coach came in and jazzed things up with the T on the helmet; the checkerboard endzones; and a new way to enter the field. He did it to attract players. That’s what Butch Jones is doing with the new uniforms.

Oh, the color orange was picked by a football player.