High Hopes, Positive Vibes Around Campus: Tennessee Fans Have Been Waiting On This Moment For A Long Time

KNOXVILLE- Crews were working on the setup for a number of shows broadcasting from Tennessee’s campus on Friday. Students were on their usual stroll to class and officials were preparing for a crowd of over 150,000 people. It’s not just if Tennessee beats Alabama for some, it’s when.

Notably, Tennessee has shot up the polls and made headlines across the country for its high-speed offense over the last month. The Vols have two SEC wins against Florida and LSU so far this season. As noticed in Pittsburgh, then Baton Rouge, Vol fans will travel by the thousands to see their team play if given a reason.

Tennessee’s losing streak to Alabama comes to an end in Knoxville.

Hope is exactly what fans have this week. It’s no longer ‘If’ Tennessee can hang with Alabama, a good amount of fans are expecting them to give Nick Saban his first loss against the team in orange as the Tide’ head coach. Saban is currently 15-0 against the Vols while wearing the Alabama polo.

Boats are parked along the Vol Navy near Tennessee’s campus. via: Trey Wallace

In fact this is a far cry from the Derek Dooley, Butch Jones and Jeremy Pruitt days. We’re way past that point, with Tennessee leading the country in offense. Fans around Knoxville have bought into the ‘Heup’. Not only has Josh Heupel embraced the culture and traditions at Tennessee, he’s trying to add to it.

History Has Been On Alabama’s Side

Sixteen years ago, I was learning what an iPhone was or still getting used to a platform called ‘Facebook’. That’s how long its been since Tennessee could claim a win over Alabama. The hatred between fans will pour out on Saturday afternoon as fans wearing crimson make their way around campus.

“I don’t know what it is about this game, but it feels as if they’ve had a spell on us for sixteen years. If we’re going to make the statement that ‘Tennessee is back’, beating Alabama would be the perfect way to do it,” a former Tennessee staffer mentioned.

Boats Are Lineup Up In The ‘Vol Navy’. Via: Trey Wallace

The Fan Perspective Of Football Program

Taking a stroll along the Tennessee river on Friday, I noticed more than thirty boats already parked at the Vol Navy. Speaking with ‘David’ who had already cracked open a beer, he spoke about the change in attitude around Knoxville, thanks to Josh Heupel and his staff.

“There’s just a different excitement with this program. First off, it doesn’t feel like Heupel is faking it. He’s actually bought into the Tennessee traditions and doesn’t sugarcoat what’s going on with his team. We all know what he inherited, but look what he’s done with the mess left behind.

“To be honest, we put a lot of money into these experiences, it finally feels like we’re getting it turned around,” David added. “Do you know how much sh*t this fan base has gone through over the past decade?”

The Tennessee ‘Rock’ On Camps. Via: Trey Wallace

Indeed, the Tennessee fan base is like a ‘Powder Keg’ ready to explode.

Tents were being setup, alcohol being delivered to the stadium, with fans of both teams walking around campus. As I made my way to the opposite side of campus, RV’s were being parked, with fans beginning to setup their tailgates.

Furhtermore, after covering the Florida game, I’d imagine Saturday will look similar to ‘Woodstock 99’. If my prediction comes to fruition, campus officials will hopefully be prepared for what’s to come.

Speaking with the former staffer about the magnitude of this game, it all circles back to Tennessee looking to make another statement to the college football world.

“It’s time. We’ve been kicked in the teeth for too many years. It’s time for us to do the kicking. We’re finally making our way back to relevance. They’ve got people talking, now I hope to light up a cigar on Saturday night.”

Written by Trey Wallace

Wallace started covering the SEC in 2012, as the conference landscape was beginning to change. Prior to his time in Knoxville, Wallace worked in Nashville for The Read Optional, where he first produced content that garnered national attention. His passion for sports is evident in his work and has led him to break some of college football’s biggest stories. His social media reach and natural podcast proficiency continue to make Wallace one of SEC’s most trusted sources.

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