Game 44: Appalachian State Mountaineers @ Arkansas State Red Wolves
Game 46: Tulane Green Wave @ South Florida Bulls




 


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GAME #45
Saturday, October 20, 2018

#1 Alabama Crimson Tide: 7-0
@ Tennessee Volunteers: 3-3

 Neyland Stadium
Knoxville, Tennessee


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Trip Dates 10/19/2018 – 10/21/2018
School University of Tennessee
Visiting Team Alabama Crimson Tide
Pre-game Record: 7-0
Home Team Tennessee Volunteers
Pre-game Record: 3-3
Game Time (ET) 3:30 PM Eastern
Weather 64 & Cloudy
Attendees Jarrett, Al & Brett
Jarrett’s Pick Alabama Crimson Tide
(29 and 15 record)
Al’s Pick Alabama Crimson Tide
(22 and 22 record)
Attendance 97,087
Capacity 102,455
TV CBS
Length of Game 3:19
Seat Location 4th Row Upper Deck, Corner
Miles Traveled 1,455
Photo Album Click here for the Tennessee Photo Album

Travel

Our wake up call was not the normal ungodly hour, just the extremely early one, as we were on the 8:30 Delta flight from LaGuardia to Knoxville.  The Lyft ride to LaGuardia was only mildly terrifying as our Lyft driver was what one would call a bad driver. He was not sleepy, on drugs, or drinking, just a really bad driver, we think.  But we did manage to make it to LaGuardia alive.

The PreCheck line at Delta Terminal D was quite long.  Long enough that we started discussion about what this Clear ID thing was all about. But at $180 and only 35 airports, it was a quick conversation.  That price point is going to have to come down or it is going to have to be in every airport. Eventually, we were past security, despite both Al and I being selected for the “random” security check.

Al, clearly in a senior moment, seemed impressed by the redesign of Terminal D and its food choices.  I tried explaining that we have flown out of this Terminal before, many times, to no avail. I’m not sure we ever got on the same page on this one.  Maybe, he wasn’t on those trips, or it was me having the mental lapses. Certainly possible, especially if you ask Beth! Beth adds, “Definitely!”

Anyway, in a travel time calculation error, we had some time to kill, so we actually had a sit down breakfast.  After a complete misreading of the iPad menu (see, mental lapse), I had a little bit of what I wanted and much of what I did not.  

Before too long, we boarded and were headed off to Knoxville.  Now you would think that this plane would be all Tennessee and Alabama fans.  A Friday morning, to Knoxville, before a big game. If not, why are all these people going to Knoxville.  But no. It certainly did not seem like a game flight to me.

Knoxville

We arrived in Knoxville and did the honorable thing.  Target’s (Brett) flight was arriving shortly after ours and we waited.  It was surprising that we even knew he was coming on this trip, but we did, and we even knew when he was arriving and it was only a bit after ours.  So Target (Brett) arrives on his flight from Indianapolis via Atlanta (yea, figure that one out), with all his luggage that he needs to ship to NY despite the fact that he is flying back to Indianapolis. I might have mixed up some of these details because I was only half listening, but the point is he arrived with luggage that needed to be shipped somewhere else.  Oh Target (Brett), you make this too easy. And yes, you would be right in wondering why he did not just drive from Indianapolis to Knoxville. Beth adds, “That was exactly what I was thinking.”

After picking up the rental car, we headed out to the University of Tennessee.  I will say that it was very nice to fly directly into our destination and not have a 1-2 hour drive ahead of us.  Most times those drives are unavoidable as many schools are in out of the way places, but I do enjoy not having that drive.

 

The University of Tennessee

We headed to the Vol bookstore.  Just a shot glass purchase for me.  This is just one of those Quest stops where it will be a shot glass only, no home team shirt to be worn on game day.  My Gator allegiance will just not permit me to wear certain colors. And UT orange is most definitely one of those colors.  Al and Brett (Target) had no problem. They look like fools in those colors. I will have to secretly burn them. Maybe I will wait until they take the shirts off…maybe.

We grabbed a quick lunch at the student union before setting out on a self guided walking tour of campus.  This consisted mostly of us walking around aimlessly. We stumbled past the set of SEC Nation. We attempted to access a clock tower, only to be denied by a locked door called Tower Roof.  We stumbled past some athletic facilities, the track, and the student rec building.

I should have started off this trip report by announcing my bias, but in case you could not tell, I am biased.  I do not like The University of Tennessee. I do not like the Volunteers. I do not like Peyton Manning. I do not like Bruce Pearl.  I am a Gator. We hate the Vols. It is in our blood. It is in our DNA. Therefore, take everything in this report through that lens.

A few last comments on the UT campus.  First, it is a hill. The entire campus tilts.  No matter which way you are going, it is uphill.  If you do manage to find a piece of flat land, they have bolted a table to it.  Second, it does have people on it. There are actually students that go to this school.  On a Friday afternoon, we saw students, and lots of them. You’d be surprised at how rare this actually is at some of our Quest stops.

Neyland Stadium Tour

At the prescribed time, we headed over to meet for a tour of Neyland Stadium that Al had artfully arranged.  Our tour guides introduced themselves, and of course we have no recollection of what their names were, and we headed over.  The first stop on the tour was the club level. A very nice feature of the club level seating area, is the outside area that overlooks the outside of the stadium where the Vol walk takes place and the team enters the stadium.  

The next stop was the press box.  Very standard level stuff for an SEC school.  Looks like a packed house for tomorrow’s game although Al did spot two empty seats.

The next stop was a first for us, the roof.  We have never been on the roof of a stadium before.  We are talking sniper position level. I urge you to check out the photo album for some great shots from up here.  Although I will say that my fear of heights and the lack of a railing got the best of me and all of the pics are courtesy of Brett (Target) and Al, as I did not get anywhere close to the edge. Infinity edge roof, not for me.   Great views of the UT campus and surrounding area.

After the roof, we headed down to the freshly painted field.   I did have the Gator hat on and was quite happy wearing the Gator hat on that field.  Beth chimes in that I am lucky there was no sniper on the roof while I was on the field in a Gator hat.  Beth is really finding her voice after all of these years. It was an interesting feeling being down on that field.  With a capacity of over 100k, and standing down there empty, it was easy to see how that could be a very tough place to play at full capacity with the fans going nuts.  

We moved on to the field level media room, which is also where post game press conferences take place.  The locker room was off limits, so this is where our tour would end. In another swipe at my hat, Beth adds that maybe they would have let us in the locker room if I did not have the Gator hat on.  Brett and Al may have been thinking the same thing.

Our tour guides were very hospitable and imparted much wisdom about Tennessee and the Volunteer athletic program. We also got some good advice about things to see and places to eat. We parted ways and we want to thank them for the excellent tour and kind hospitality.

Evening Activities

After the tour, we headed out to the hotel to check in and get in a bit of rest.  The hotel was 10 miles away but for some reason took 25 minutes to get to. That’s not a good sign.  Nor was it a good sign that we had to switch rooms after the pull out couch in the first room, did not pull out.  Seeing as how Brett (Target) actually wanted a bed to sleep in, we had to switch rooms. But after we got that all squared away, all was good.  This Comfort Suites was actually much better than our last Comfort Suites, so that was a relief because based on the Jonesboro, Arkansas Comfort Suites, I was a tad nervous about this booking.

After a bit of rest and some showers, we headed out to downtown Knoxville.  There were a few places on our list to check out, and we ended up at a place called Sweet P’s for some BBQ.  I had the sampler platter which had ribs, pork, and brisket and sides of mac and cheese, potato salad, and beans.  The winners on the plate were the ribs and mac and cheese. Beth notes that this is a Haley dinner for sure! It was a very good dinner.  There is some award winning food photography in the photo album.

   

On our way back to the center of town (meaning the town square where all the bars were), Al got side tracked by Cruze Farms Dairy and its wonderful looking ice cream.  So we had to stop. It is here where I need to insert a comment to see if Debra reads the trip reports. Hi Debra!  If you text “cheating on the skipper dipper” to Al, you will receive an all expenses paid trip (paid by Al, not me) to all future Quest trips including such exotic places as El Paso, Tx and Laramie, Wyoming (no letters please, it is just a joke).

The next stop was Myrtles Chicken + Beer.  Al was drinking a pecan old fashioned. Brett  (Target) ordered a drink with chili peppers and was then surprised that it was spicy.  So he ordered a water, returned the drink, and then got a beer. Oh Target (Brett)! I failed to mention to this point that I was traveling with a cold, so I stuck with a diet coke.  That would change tomorrow. FYI – this is called foreshadowing. No one could bring themselves to order the chicken and waffles, which looked real good except for the chicken part.

Eventually we headed off back to the hotel for some sleep.

Saturday Morning

A 3:30 game means a lazy wake up and college game day in bed.  One of us did make it downstairs for the Comfort Suites breakfast and game day waffles.  It was not me, it was Al.

After a very lazy morning, we did eventually head out to Neyland Stadium.  We utilized Lyft so as to not have to deal with parking. Lunch was a pit stop at Panera Bread before heading over to Neyland  Stadium for Vol walk. It was underwhelming. I am biased, but even the fools in the Vol shirts (Brett/Target and Al) agreed. We loitered around outside Neyland Stadium long enough for Al to watch the band parade past.  It was long enough to make two observations; a) grown men should not wear overalls (I am not talking about the novelty football overalls, those should definitely be worn at every opportunity) {See picture #143 in the photo album} and b) all the talent at this game is on the Alabama side, and I am not talking about on the field although that is the case there too.  As an aside, this paragraph got a very nice comment from the peanut gallery during the review process as Beth said “lol – as Haley said, you are funny.” I really should quit while I am ahead.

Pregame

And now a word about Neyland Stadium.  The press box, club level, and towers are very nice.  The field level facilities, media rooms, etc are also very nice.  But the fan level concourses and the outer facades are badly in need of an upgrade.  The appearance of the stadium from the outside looks quite dated. The towers that hold the luxury suites and club levels look very nice but is in very stark contrast to the very dated rest of the stadium.  Once you enter the seating areas, though, the dated feel of the concourses does fade a bit.

Our seats were in the upper bowl.  The ramp to the upper bowl, was at a 75 degree grade.  You could use this ramp as a ski jump. Texas, please take note.  We were in our seats in enough time to take in all the pre game festivities, including The Pride of the Southland Band. Al likes bands. 

Remember, I said that I may be biased.  There is no pre game hype video, there is no end of 3Q tradition, but I will give Tennessee credit for one thing.  The running through the T in taking the field is a nice tradition. It was cool to see that in person.

The crowd was an announced attendance of just over 97,000.  This actually seemed about right. The stands were full, but there were some small pockets of open seats.  Also, there were a lot of Alabama fans in attendance, a lot.

Our section was very tight, because the stadium crew bolted a chair back in our row to the wrong seat number leaving the person next to Al with half a seat.  So we had a very crowded row. These seats are cramped enough without that mistake. Nice job.

The Game

Tennessee won the toss and made a bad decision by deferring.  This cost the Vols the chance to ever lead in the game. Alabama took the opening possession for a TD and a 7-0 lead.  No, I am not going to do a full recap. It was 28-0 at the end of the 1Q. The 2Q was a draw with both teams scoring 14 points, 42-14 Alabama at the half.  The game would end 58-21. Needless to say, both Al and I had picked Alabama, so neither one of us gains on the other. I was kind and did give Al until halfway through the 1Q to change his pick.  He declined.

Post Game

We were going to let the crowd thin out before departing Neyland due to the small exit ramps, but the Alabama blow out took care of that.  

Calhoun’s

We decided to head over to Calhoun’s which pre trip research indicated was a must visit.  Our tour guides were more hesitant, indicating that Calhoun’s was coasting on accolades from long ago, but we decided to go with it.  We settled in at the bar and ordered some food and drink. We were all drinking tonight as I decided that maybe I could kill the cold bug with alcohol.  Does it work that way? Well, tonight I was going with it.

The food came, and the reviews were a consensus, highly highly overrated.  In fact, maybe we have not been to a more overrated place on the Quest. This place was raved about in all pre trip research.  Food was average at best. Sweet P’s was much much better. Food anyway. Beth adds the long distance I was not involved told you so by adding, “Should have listened to the tour guides”.  Thanks, Beth.

Now for the entertainment.  I know what you are saying, but Jarrett, Calhoun’s doesn’t have entertainment.  Oh yes it does, if you sit at the bar. The entertainment is way underrated. From the other customers, to the four bartenders, to the other staff that stops by the bar, very entertaining.  I wish I had taken notes or recorded some of it, but I didn’t. You will just have to take my word for it. Insider tip: wait until the bartenders do the jello shots.

Oh, and it was nice to watch Ohio State lose to Purdue while sitting there too.

But eventually they were closing and we had to leave, so it was a Lyft back to the hotel.

Sunday

Sunday came and we left Target (Brett) passed out on the pull out sofa and headed off to the Knoxville airport.  An airport which is uphill by the way. They didn’t even try to level it out. The garage is uphill. Even the walk from the entrance to security is uphill. Everything is uphill.

It was an uneventful trip back to LaGuardia, where Al and I parted ways for a few weeks until we would meet up again for the trip to South Florida.

Postscript

Tennessee would go on to finish the year at 5-7, 2-6 in the SEC, good for last place in the East.  This is now back to back years without a bowl appearance for the Volunteers.

Alabama would finish the regular season undefeated and beat Georgia 35-28 in the SEC Championship game.  The Crimson Tide would beat Oklahoma 45-34 in the Orange Bowl, which served as the CFP semifinal. The Championship Game in Santa Clara would prove a very different story as Clemson took it to the Crimson Tide and Alabama lost 44-16.  Alabama finished the year 14-1.

Photo Gallery
For our Tennessee photo album, Please click here. You can view as a collage or run as a slideshow. There are comments to explain what is in the photo but most are self explanatory. Thanks to Google, I can no longer embed the slide show with comments.





Game 44: Appalachian State Mountaineers @ Arkansas State Red Wolves
Game 46: Tulane Green Wave @ South Florida Bulls



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