Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Invasion of Big Orange Country

I have waited for this game for years.  WE have waited for this game for years.  And when I say years, I really mean a lot of years.  Carolina had not played UT since 1961.  That's 20 years before I was born.  The Geer/Edgerton - UNC/UT roots run long and deep.  Let me explain...

I have both aunts, uncles and multiple cousins that live in Knoxville.  Die Hard UT fans.  They feel about UT just the same as we do Carolina.  They go to every football game, every basketball game, baseball games and they travel where ever the team is.  They are either alumni or current students, big time members of the Tennessee Fund and are very close with several members of the coaching staff.  They love UT and I love that about them.
Ed's parents both worked for UNC so he and his brother both grew up die hard Carolina fans.  They were the kids you saw crying in the stands when Carolina lost.  When Ed's brother got a scholarship to play basketball for East Tennessee State University, he left Chapel Hill in 1987.  After graduating, he moved to Knoxville...where he lives only a few miles away from my aunt and uncle.  He is a Carolina Fan surrounded by a sea of orange, much like anybody that comes to live in Chapel Hill is surrounded by Carolina blue.  He has been waiting for 23 years for this game to take place.

I was born in Hampton, VA.  Not very close to either UNC or UT.  BUT, my dad has been a Carolina fan since he was a kid.  He was the only Carolina fan in a house with 8 people...all of whom were NC State fans.  Plus my cousin was the quarterback at Carolina during the late 70's-80's (during the time I was born) and my mom's brother was a UNC graduate and he lived in Chapel Hill so naturally I was just born a Carolina fan too.  We have instilled this in our children.
Again, this game was a long time in the making.  Carolina/UT have been scheduled to play each other for awhile now, in Chapel Hill in 2011 and in Knoxville in 2012.  Our families had been planning the tailgating and all of the family happenings for these games forever.  Then before this season started, UT pulled out of the contract, cancelling both games.  We were so upset.  So when the season was over and the bowl games were announced, I don't need to explain that tickets were purchased to the Music City Bowl within minutes of the announcement.  Even better, the game was in Nashville, close enough for us to stay with the family in Knoxville.  We love Knoxville.  We love that when we go up there we can see both my family and Ed's.  We love that my Aunt Rita & Uncle Jeff are so welcoming to Ed's family that we all do everything together and avoid the "we have to do this with your family here and my family here" thing.  We jump on every opportunity we have to get away and go to Knoxville.
I must say, I loved Nashville. 
Love country music = Love Nashville
I want to go back.  Soon.  For vacation.  When we have time to visit places and when I have the chance to drag Ed around to try and find Tim McGraw's house.  He would do it if I wanted to.  He is that good to me.
We started out the day at the Wildhorse Saloon where we met up with some fellow Chapel Hillians.
This place was awesome.  Not so sure if everyone else liked it but this country girl did.  I even participated in the line dancing with Deuce on my hip, a la Gretchen Wilson's Redneck Woman.  It was so much fun.

This is my niece Chanler holding Deuce at Wildhorse Saloon.
Then we walked across the river to the stadium.  It was beautiful.  The Titans stadium was on one side of the river and the Nashville skyline was on the other.
Deuce took a pregame nap while we tailgated with the family.
I was so excited that Trace Atkins sang the national anthem.  Ed was like "who?  Oh, you like him?"
So anyway, this was definitely the craziest football game I have ever been to. 
I don't know what else to say about the game except that we won. You know there were only 10 Carolina fans in Nashville and we were 7 of them so we were surrounded by all UT fans.  That didn't bother me.  But at the end of the game there were some pretty unruly ones that were truly upset about what was taking place.  TJ was crying that he wanted to leave because he thought we were going to get beat up.  This was before the game went in to overtime.  Once it went in to overtime and then we won, you should have seen him.  He thought he was 10 feet tall.  Comical.  I got a text from my Aunt Rita that said we were going to have to find another place to stay after the game.  They were staying the night in Nashville and we drove back to her house in Knoxville, because yes we are too cheap to get a hotel.  I wrote her back that we were going to go back to her house, eat all of her food, paint all of their orange stuff blue and then leave by the time they got back the next morning.  They were good sports about the game and we all agreed that the officiating on BOTH sides was pretty terrible.  But I won't say anything else because....we won!
The next day, New Year's Eve, we had the opportunity to go to a UT basketball game.  I had never been to Thompson-Boling arena and the last time Ed was there was when his brother was playing for ETSU and they played Ga Tech in the NCAA tournament.  He was little then.  The arena has recently been renovated and my uncle's steel company did a lot of the steel work.  The place was beautiful!
This was Deuce's first collegiate basketball game.
Me, Ed & Deuce sat with my cousin Ricky while TJ got special treatment and got to sit in the coach's box with Aunt Rita & Uncle Jeff.  He had a blast. 
After the game, we were treated to a behind the scenes meet & greet with the players.  They were all so nice and more than willing to take pictures.
John Fields & Kenny Hall
Kenny Hall & Jeronne Maymon
Jeronne was so nice and kept saying how beautiful Deuce was. He told me & Ed that we "made a beautiful baby."
Scotty Hopson
TJ told me "his string was in my face but I didn't want to be rude." 
I guess his manners are starting to kick in.
Trae Golden
Melvin Goins
Tobias Harris
TJ with Melvin.  He liked Melvin because "he plays the point just like me."
TJ & Tobias
Josh Bone
The boys with Coach Pearl.  We didn't get the chance to talk with him that day.  I don't think he was too happy, they had lost and he had been kicked out of the game with 2 techs.  TJ thoroughly enjoyed talking to his parents and his wife!
Thanks to Aunt Rita & Uncle Jeff for making TJ's day.  He will never forget this.  And of course Deuce will love looking at the pictures when he gets older (and the fact that i had his UNC paci clip on him in every picture, hee hee.  Sorry Aunt Rita!)

1 comment:

  1. Come to Nashville for a visit before we move away so we can show you guys around!!!


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