I hate Tennessee. Honest to God hate. Not a wishy-washy dislike. A full-bore, finger on the trigger as I yell profanities (Fiddlesticks and such!) rancor limited only by my vocabulary and hyperbole threshold.
The last four meetings with those hillbilly, corn-from-a-jar buffoons have been satisfying. Well, save last year. There was nothing satisfying about 2008 Auburn. Both Auburn and Tennessee fans left that disgrace of a game with heads down, a “WTF just happened? Why does it smell like shame?” look on their faces.
But 2004, that was a different story. I have attempted on several occasions to put the euphoria I felt during Auburn’s 2004 domination of Tennessee in that whore pit Neyland Stadium (Nah, I just wanted to call something a “whore pit”) into words.
It’s like trying to describe Dragonforce to a deaf person (bad example?) or the feel of perfect breasts to a man with no hands. The feeling is indescribable, even five years later.
So yeah, I don’t like Tennessee, not one bit.
A quick background, key word being quick: My parents both graduated from Auburn. They got married and presumably … had … sex … and I popped out 9 months or so later. From birth they indoctrinated me with their Auburn propaganda and Bama hate speech.
In 1998, my parents along with 10-year-old me moved north to Tennessee. Whoo-wee. I was just in time for Terry Bowden’s departure and the zenith of modern Tennessee football — the 1998 undefeated national championship. That was fun for a 10-year-old overly zealous kid whose whole world revolved around Auburn football. Good thing I’m not bitter.
So this game is more than just Auburn’s first SEC road game. It is a chance for me, the doe-eyed 10-year-old still within, to dance on Tennessee’s grave. To return past insults a hundredfold. To fiddle as Neyland burns and Lane Kiffin’s eyeless corpse is paraded through Market Square. I get to yell and mock and basically act the fool for one day. It is glorious. The back of my throat still burns from yelling “Obomanu!” and “Aromashodu!” repeatedly in 2004.
You will have to excuse me. I’m getting all excited like.
Things to consider when in Knoxville:
Food: Basically the standard medium to large-sized city fare. You’ve got your Chili’s and your Applebee’s and your other chain restaurants along with one of my personal favorites, P.F. Chang’s.
My friend, French, swears by Chandler’s — a soul food joint housed in an old Taco Bell off of Magnolia Avenue.
Regas located downtown is supposed to be a tasty but pricey meal. Calhoun’s on the river is good for ribs. And in that same area is a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. E-mail me if you want more specific information. (I’m serious.)
Bars, Nightlife, Debauchery: I am no expert in this area, in this particular city. But I will say head in the general direction of The Strip (ask someone if you’re not sure), especially Saturday after the game.
The historic downtown area is also a good choice. It’s a bit on the classier side. My suggestion would be Mirage — a hookah bar with a belly dancer and floor pillows and Middle Eastern MTV. It is what I imagine an opium den looks like. I’m probably way off base with that.
Sleep: Hotels galore. If you are really hard up, you could always sleep in the World’s Fair Park. Nothing wrong with being homeless for one night.
In case you didn’t know, Auburn is going for its fifth consecutive win over UT. So, should Auburn win (please Auburn win), remember to hold up your thumb at any and all Vol fans. They’ll understand.
War Eagle, fools.
Ben Bartley is a student at Auburn University. Most of his time is spent doing as little as possible, eating and controlling manageable vices. He will one day graduate with a degree in journalism and maybe find a job. Fingers crossed. Write to him at [email protected].