Setting The Scene In Knoxville: Jack Daniels Flowing As Tennessee Vol Tailgates Get Going

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It felt like football as I made the turn onto Tennessee’s campus this afternoon. College football in the South is back in a big way, with people setting up tailgate tents and especially the older gentleman taking a swig from Jack Daniels. We finally made it to September.

Making the drive from the OutKick 360 hit with Chad Withrow and Johnathan Hutton, the traffic started to pickup after exciting the Old City.

From the start, you could tell the excitement level was hitting a fever pitch. There was a live band playing Garth Brooks cover songs under a tent. This is the best time of the year and we’re seeing it across the country. Not just in Knoxville, but the scenes out of Pittsburgh for the ‘Backyard Brawl’ tonight are tremendous, with the student section filled three hours before kickoff.

Tennessee tailgate. (Trey Wallace)

But sitting on the banks of the Tennessee River, fans were already taking their afternoon medicine on top of the G-10 parking lot, where a continent of fans tailgate. Just like most stadiums across the country, you have to experience it to truly understand it. Doing my normal routine of finding out how much tickets were for the upcoming game, I found that $10 would get me into the Tennessee vs. Ball State game. Those prices won’t last long if Josh Heupel has his way as coach.

Tennessee tailgate. (Trey Wallace)

It’s easy to tell how much the school has invested into facilities, with the exterior of Neyland Stadium looking new in certain places. It’s hard not to take in one of the bigger stadiums in college football, as you feel so small standing next to it. But with the BBQ being smoked and the drinks being passed around, you could tell that fans were just happy to be around each other.

Tennessee tailgate. (Trey Wallace)

As I took a peek at different setups, I saw one guy stashing small liquor bottles into his pants, probably praying that security wouldn’t do the full pat down. The thousands of fans booing as the Ball State players arrived via bus made me realize how special these environments are. The Ball State players were loving it. Maybe not the parents of those players though, as one gave a side eye to a fan dressed in checkerboard overalls.

Wherever you’re enjoying football this weekend, just remember to take a moment and soak it in. Also, keep the water around. I don’t need any of my readers ending up in the hospital because of a guy named Jack Daniels.

Tennessee tailgate. (Trey Wallace)

Last weekend was the appetizer, thanks to a fun game between Nebraska and Northwestern. But now we’re getting the entrée, with desert coming throughout the weekend.

The Tennessee River. (Trey Wallace)

I tipped my man playing ‘Callin Baton Rouge’ $5 as I walked past him and a plethora of Tennessee fans welcoming over some Ball State folks. This is the type of atmosphere that fans crave for five months out of the year, so don’t take it for granted.

Congratulations everyone, we’ve made it to Week 1.

Written by Trey Wallace

Trey Wallace is the host of The Trey Wallace Podcast that focuses on a mixture of sports, culture, entertainment along with his perspective on everything from College Football to the College World Series.

Wallace has been covering college sports for 15 years, starting off while attending the University of South Alabama. He’s broken some of the biggest college stories including the Florida football “Credit Card Scandal” along with the firing of Jim McElwin and Kevin Sumlin. Wallace also broke one of the biggest stories in college football in 2020 around the NCAA investigation into recruiting violations against Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt.

Wallace also appears on radio across seven different states breaking down that latest news in college sports.

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