Tag Archives: University of Tennessee

Kenny Chesney – Up Close and Connected

28 Mar

Kenny Chesney opened his latest tour in Nashville, and we were lucky enough to get tickets. When I say tickets, I am not talking about just any tickets. My wife could reach out and touch the stage. Of course, that is a great thing because she is a huge fan of Kenny.

Looking at the circumstances, I can understand why she thinks that way.

He was born in 1968, and I was born in 1968.

He is a native of Tennessee, and I am a native of Tennessee.

He is a huge fan of the University of Tennessee, and I am a huge fan of the University of Tennessee.

He suffers from a lack of hair, and I suffer from a lack of hair.

Heck, we are basically the same person. The only differences are his talent, money, fame and the feeling of having thousands of people scream when he walks in the room.

The concert opened with a cool video based on a Voodoo theme. Then, Kenny and his band came out and played for over three hours. Those hours were filled with constant music and little talk. There is nothing worse than going to a concert and have them talk through half of it.

Anyway, it was an awesome show that was made more awesome by where we sat. My wife was able to get some great pictures.

Here is one of Kenny singing from his knees. I supposed that is tougher than singing while standing up.image-25

There is also one with Kenny and one of his guitarists. It was cool to see this guy play up close.image-26

Those are great, but my favorite part of the show was when Kenny brought out a special guest.image-27

Joe Walsh is one of the all-time great guitarists and played some classics. In fact, the entire show ended with a miniature Joe Walsh concert. Once Joe was finished doing his thing, Kenny made a final walk around the stage, and it all came to an end.

I have seen Kenny Chesney in concert before and was not impressed. However, this was one of the better concerts I have seen.

My only complaint? For the band introductions, they covered “Whole Lotta Rosie” by AC/DC, and the crowd did not seem to know what it was. Who does not know an AC/DC song when they hear it?

I guess that is more of a complaint about the ignorance of the crowd. The concert was great. Of course, other factors could have been kicking in. It may have been the seats. It may have been the appearance of Joe Walsh. Heck, it may have been my karmic connection to Kenny. After all, we are practically the same person.

The Longest Bus Trip in the History of College Football

12 Jan

It was 1999, and fans of the University of Tennessee were riding high. Our football won the national championship the previous season, and we went to as many games as possible. It was a chance to support our team and rub it in to rival fans.Tee

In November, the team had just defeated Notre Dame and one of the nation’s highest ranked teams. Next was a trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas to play the Razorbacks. It was a journey that we had to make, but Fayetteville is a long way from here. To make the trip easier and more fun, a bunch of guys leased a luxury bus.

The trip was fun, but it was not easy. In fact, it turned into the longest weekend of my life.

We loaded onto the bus late Friday afternoon for a game to be played on Saturday morning at 11:30. The following schedule is true in every sense.

The bus took us to Tunica, Mississippi for a few hours of gambling. Of course, gambling took place before we arrive, but Tunica allowed for a more organized type. We gambled. We ate. We gambled some more. We ate some more. The hours melted away.

At some point, we were told to get back on the bus. Everyone was wired, and we horsed around all the way to the Arkansas campus. We got off the bus. We walked around campus. We met fans of both teams. We made our way to the seats.

It was sometime during the first half that I started feeling out of sorts. It felt as if I was in a fog. If I had not been sitting down, then I might have fallen down. That is when I realized that I had not be to sleep. It was Saturday afternoon, and I had not closed my eyes since Friday morning.

Obviously, I stayed awake during the game. After the game, I made a fateful decision. Go for the gusto and not sleep until getting home. Other people crashed. However, I was going to have none of it. I was going to stay awake for the entire trip.

When we got back to town, it felt as if I was in a walking coma. If zombies had been a popular thing in the late 1990s, then I would have felt like one of them.

I will not write about all of the activities that happened on the trip. To protect the guilty, that stuff will be left out. However, this trip has come to my mind over the past few days.

Two of the men who ventured on the trip have passed away in the past 48 hours. I was not close to either one of them and have not seen them in years. However, everyone who went on that journey have a connection. We took the longest bus trip in the history of college football.

Movie Wisdom – David Keith Edition

29 Dec

My fandom of University of Tennessee athletics has been mentioned several times on this blog. We have had season tickets for football and basketball for decades, and I have been lucky enough to attend hundreds of games. However, I am not alone in my addiction. There are thousands upon thousands of us.

One of those thousands, David Keith, has football tickets a few rows in front of us. He is also an actor who has been in some good and not-so-good movies. How big of a fan is he? Well, he wears something orange in every movie.

I just put together a “Movie Wisdom” post but decided that a David Keith version needed to be created.David Keith

I only wish that I could have found a good line from The Further Adventures of Tennessee Buck.

From The Rose

We are waitresses at the banquet of life!

From Brubaker

You can’t reform the system if you’re not in it.

From The Two Jakes

The city’s different at night.

You can’t trust a guy who’s never lost anything.

From Major League II

When the tough get goin’, go and get tough.

From U-571

You have to be able to make hard decisions based on imperfect information.

From Men of Honor

Beware what you wish for.

From Daredevil

It’s all business.

Violence doesn’t discriminate.

There’s an old saying that too much pride can kill a man.

Justice isn’t a sin.

Those are words of wisdom from the movies of a guy who sits in front of us at football games. There is only one more thing to say. Go Big Orange!

Saturday Morning Ramble

25 Oct

I was going to write about our trip to Hilton Head, but, frankly, I am not ready to write about that. The post needs to be as fun as the trip, and that feeling is still working its way through my mind.

Everyone has left the house, which means that the only sounds are the keys of the laptop and the neighbor cutting the grass. Most of the lights are off, which means all of the light is filtering through the windows. My desk is a disaster, which means that I need to, once again, straighten it up. It is amazing how much stuff can collect on top of desk.

One of the things that cannot get thrown away is an answer sheet for an assignment that I assigned. It will be coming back to me in a few days, and the trusty purple pen will be put back to work. It was put to great use when we returned from Hilton Head. As soon as we got home, I was heading to campus to grab a stack of tests.

Speaking of tests, my nephew is taking the SAT this morning. I am certain that he will do well, but it must be tense to take a test that higher academics takes that seriously. When I was in school, it was not that big of a deal. They told us that we would be taking a test in a couple of weeks. When the day arrived, the put us in the cafeteria and let us work. It turned out that we were taking the ACT.

These days, kids are put into courses to prepare them for the test, and they also take it several times. My stepdaughter is taking it in December, and she is in the seventh grade. I know that we must have some measurement for college acceptance, but, to me, this seems to be a lot of stress at a young age. They will have enough stress in their lives. Do they really need this?Stress

Speaking of stress, I will have plenty of the self-made kind by the end of the day. In a few hours, we are driving to Knoxville to watch the University of Tennessee play football against the University of Alabama. I have already written about this rivalry, but, honestly, it is not much of a rivalry at this time. My team, Tennessee, is going through one of the worst times in its history. Alabama is going through one of its best. That does not make for a good game or a good rivalry. It may be crazy, but watching my team struggle stresses me out. However, it is not just me. I know a lot of people who cannot wait for better days.

Writing about stress makes me think about our trip to Hilton Head, a time of relaxation. Now that I am getting the inspiration to write about that, the next post will be about our South Carolina adventures.

Museums, Memorials, Steaks and Some College Football

16 Sep

This weekend, I traveled to Oklahoma with my nephews and Larry, a friend that you have read about. We went for a college football game but did a few other things, as well. At least, we did a few other things once we arrived. That, in and of itself, was an adventure.

We arrived at the Nashville airport in anticipation of a quick trip to Oklahoma City. That quick trip turned into a two-hour delay for mechanical problems. Once we got into the air, the plane was redirected due to weather. That added another couple of hours to the flight. A three-hour layover in Houston suddenly turned into a missed connection. When we landed, we discovered that the connecting flight was delayed because the plane had not left New Orleans. We did not miss our connection, but we still had to sit around for a couple of hours.

All of that adds up to a couple of things. First, a night of messing around Oklahoma City was cut short. Second,  I was reminded why I hate flying. If I am driving, then I know what the schedule is going to be. In an airport, I have to wait for somebody else to screw up.

Anyway, we made it to Oklahoma City and to our hotel. With little time to spare, we went to a couple of places that were high on the agenda.

I have been to the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum many times on our annual field trip to New Mexico. We make a point to stop and show our students the site of the Murrah Federal Building, which was blown up in the first major terrorist attack in the United States. However, I had never seen it at night. I have heard that this is the time to visit. The memorial is lit up and the feelings of what happened there hit the hardest.image-9

I must say that it was a beautiful site to see, and the memorial is an appropriate tribute to the people who lost their lives.image-8

My oldest nephew had been there before, but my youngest nephew had not. I am glad that he got to see it. Unfortunately, we could not stay for long because we had our name on the list at our next destination.

Cattlemen’s Steakhouse is a well-known restaurant across the river in Stockyards City. It has been around for decades and is known as the best steakhouse in Oklahoma. Some friends who were already there placed our name on the list, and we needed to get there before our buzzer went off.

The place was packed with people from Tennessee. Apparently, they all got the word that this was the place to eat. Heck, they could have seen it on Guy Fieri’s television show. It is a cool restaurant with a great atmosphere and a great history. If John Wayne and Ben Johnson have eaten there, then it must be a great place.

With all of that being said, I was disappointed with the food. The steak was pretty good, but it was far from the best I have ever eaten. It is no comparison to the Land of Magic in Manhattan, Montana. I am glad that we went because we can always say that we were there, but I hope that Oklahoma has better steak places.

After a long day of flights and a big meal of food, we were ready to pack it in for the day. Besides, the important day was coming up. There was a big night game to be played down the road, and there were a few more places to visit before heading to the stadium.

I had not been to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum since I was a kid, and, honestly, I did not know much about it. I figured it would be cheesy, but, with a lot of time on our hands, it was something to do. I could not have been more wrong. This was one of the best museums I have ever seen. Rooms were filled to the brim with artifacts, art and anything that a lover of the American West would want to see.image-11

There was a room full of firearms, but that was not my favorite. I liked the artwork by Frederick Remington, C.M. Russell and others. I also liked the room dedicated to movies, which had an extensive collection of John Wayne’s personal belongings. There was a painting based on The Searchers that I would steal if I know how to be an art thief. There were also props from a bunch of my favorite movies.image-10

I cannot write about the museum without mentioning the rodeo room, which places you in the middle of the ring, and the room with the town, which places you on the streets of an old cattle town. The only thing missing was a brothel, and I still have not gotten over that disappointment.

We left that museum with the intention of visiting the ASA Softball Hall of Fame. My dad is in the Tennessee Hall of Fame, and we know several people who are enshrined in the national one. Unfortunately, it is closed on the weekends. One would think that the weekend would be a good time to open the doors.

With all of that behind us, it was time to drive to Norman and the football game between the University of Tennessee and the University of Oklahoma. The game did not go the way we wanted, but we had a great trip. We saw some interesting things and visited some interesting places. Like always, it is always good to travel, but it is also good to return home.

Venturing Into Oklahoma

12 Sep

This weekend, I am heading to Oklahoma to see my team, the University of Tennessee Volunteers, play the University of Oklahoma Sooners. It is always fun to go to a new stadium and see the traditions of other schools. I am sure it will be interesting to experience how they do things.Oklahoma

Hopefully, my team will make a good show of things. They are in a rebuilding mode, and Oklahoma is a powerhouse. That is not a formula for success, but you never know what might happen.

While we are there, we may get the chance to do a few other things. It has been years since I visited the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. On top of that, we have to visit the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame. We know a few of the inductees, and, many years ago, we played in a national tournament on their fields. We did not fare well in that athletic event.

Anyway, I will return with stories of adventure and, hopefully, athletic glory for the team in orange.

A Tale of Four Quarterbacks

26 Aug

This week marks the beginning of college football season, which means that I will be driving to Knoxville for another opening game for the University of Tennessee. This made me think about past seasons and other opening games. Then, I realized that it was 20 years ago that the Volunteers had one of their most interesting starts.

In 1994, Larry and I flew to Pasadena, California to watch the Big Orange play UCLA at the Rose Bowl. A few things about that trip stand out.

Our room overlooked Colorado Boulevard, the main route of the Rose Bowl Parade. It is too bad that we were there in September.

The temperature was super hot. It felt more like Tennessee temperatures than what you would find in southern California.

A man and his son brought their luggage to the game. Apparently, they did not have time to go to the hotel. They came to the stadium straight from the airport. Can you imagine someone trying to bring suitcases into a stadium during these times?

Larry upset one of the concession stand workers. We tried to get a cup of ice, and the guy said that it would be $10 or some other outrageous amount. That is when Larry said, “Damn, Jesse James carried a gun when he robbed people.” Apparently, the guy did not like the Jesse James reference.

There is something else I remember. Those were good times to be a fan of the University of Tennessee. Although we had lost Heath Shuler, who had finished second for the Heisman Trophy, we had a senior quarterback ready to take the helm. Jerry Colquitt had patiently waited his turn, and it was his time to shine.

Another upper classman, Todd Helton, was the backup. Everyone knew he would be drafted into the Major Leagues and had a bright future in baseball. He did not expect to play that often, but the team needed someone with experience because the other two quarterbacks were freshmen. They were also highly recruited.

One was Branndon Stewart, a son of Texas who came from the Heath Shuler mold. He could make things happen with his arm and his legs. The other was Peyton Manning, the son of a southern legend who played more traditionally. Everyone knew that there would be a quarterback battle in the future, but that was a year away.Quarterbacks

At least, everyone assumed it would be a year away. On the seventh play of the game, Colquitt injured his knee and was out for the season. Suddenly, Tennessee was down to a baseball player and two talented freshmen. Before the game was over, all of the quarterbacks would take snaps, and Tennessee would lose 25-23.

Helton became the reluctant starter and led the Volunteers to a big win over Georgia. However, he was injured in another game, and no one wanted to ruin his chances at baseball. He stayed on the team, but the freshman quarterback battle was at full force.

Stewart and Manning split playing time, and the fans were split, as well. Remembering Shuler, some fans wanted Stewart. Seeing a pro typical quarterback, other fans wanted Manning. Eventually, the coaches settle on Manning.

Stewart, seeing the writing on the wall, transferred to Texas A&M and led them to the 1998 Big 12 championship. In the title game, they beat Kansas State, which insured that Tennessee would go to the first BCS Title Game. The Vols won the National Championship, and, ironically, Stewart helped them do that.

Helton was drafted by the Colorado Rockies and recently retired after playing for them his entire career. Not long ago, they also retired his number.

Despite his injury, Colquitt by drafted into the NFL, but his playing career did not last long. He got into coaching and made it onto the staff of the Seattle Seahawks.

Manning is, well, Peyton Manning and is considered to be one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Like Shuler before him, he finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting, which is one of the greatest travesties in that award’s history. Then, he was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts. Now, he plays for the Denver Broncos.

Thinking about the opening game of 1994 made me wonder about how lives were changed by one injury on one play. What would have happened if that injury had not taken place? Would Colquitt have gone on to a more promising NFL career? Would Helton have come in during a later game and gotten hurt more seriously? Would another year allowed Stewart to beat out Manning for the starting job? Would Manning have transferred? Would Tennessee have won the National Championship in 1998?

I have no idea, but I know what we were thinking when that injury took place. Holy crap, what are we going to do now?