Vols are not just another SEC foe

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 24, 2002

How many ways can a team be dominated in a football game? Just ask Ole Miss for the answer. For four quarters they were absolutely manhandled by the Crimson Tide in every aspect of the game. The result was a 42-7 whipping by Alabama.

Alabama came off the bye week rested and still fuming about the loss to Georgia. It didn’t take them long to vent some of their frustration from last week on the hapless Rebels. Bama was up by two touchdowns at halftime. After scoring a touchdown on their first possession in the third quarter to go ahead 28-7 the Rebel fans were streaming to the exits.

I have to give the Ole Miss fans credit, though. At least they showed up for the game.

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Alabama’s record against Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa is 19-1. The overall record is 40-8. They must be gluttons for punishment to even make the trip.

It was a much more enjoyable time for the Alabama faithful. The game was the first homecoming victory for Alabama in three years and several memorable achievements were witnessed.

Running back Santonio Beard tied a school record with five touchdowns. Also, punter Lane Bearden, who tore his ACL less than a month ago, was back on the field. He punted five times for a 40-yard average and received a standing ovation after each kick.

The game was sweet revenge for local fan Sherie Leigh Ousely. &uot;I was a freshman in 1988 when Ole Miss beat us on homecoming.&uot;She stated the loss put a damper on the homecoming spirit that day. &uot;It was depressing, especially when an SEC team beats you.&uot;

Rachel Todd was also a student at Alabama at that time. She said this weekend’s game brought back nothing but good memories for her.

&uot;Homecoming was always fun. We would go to the pre game concert on Friday night and make huge floats to put in front of the sorority house the week of the game. On Saturday your date would pick you up in a coat and tie and take you to the game.&uot;

Neither Sherie Leigh nor Rachel could remember specifies about the games they witnessed.

Both said their memories of the games had dimmed in the years after graduation. Or as Rachel put it, &uot;That was 10 years and two babies ago.&uot;

The Crimson Tide travels to Knoxville to take on the Tennessee Volunteers Saturday.

You can bet that this game has been circled on the calendar of every Alabama fan since the end of last season.

A bit of animosity has developed between the two programs.

Each school blames the other for recent run-ins with the NCAA. For Alabama the trouble started with Albert Means. Means was from Memphis and signed to play at Alabama. Everybody knows about the allegations of payments to the high school coach for the player’s services. Insiders often claim Tennessee supporters, disgruntled over Alabama getting their state’s top players, were behind the charges.

While Tennessee was gloating over Alabama’s woes with the NCAA they learned a valuable lesson. The lesson is when you live in a glass house you shouldn’t throw stones at others.

After repeated denials, former Vol quarterback Tee Martin, who is from Mobile, admitted to taking money from a Tennessee supporter.

The NCAA is currently looking into that and several other issues with the Tennessee football program. These recent controversies have turned up the heat on an already intense rivalry.

I will be making the trip Saturday to the game. It’s been seven long years since Alabama beat Tennessee. I’ve been to all but two of these games. Come to think of it, maybe I’m a glutton for punishment.

Sitting through a game at Neyland Stadium is anything but pleasant.

The school boasts about being able to seat over 107,000 fans in the stadium. What they don’t tell you is that your butt has to be no more than 10 inches wide to sit in your seat. They are extremely narrow.

They also play a recording of an old hound dog yelping after big plays. If that’s not annoying enough you have to listen to the corniest fight song on the planet, &uot;Rocky Top&uot;, repeatedly. Maybe it’s not too late to sell my tickets.

The game kicks off at 6:45 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN.