The following is in a series of road to CFB trials for live Game Day experiences in stadiums across the country:
Football game day in Tennessee is a rite of passage. Nieland Stadium should be a staple on any sports fan’s bucket list and this is something I have to check out this year.
TN 38, Bowling Green 6
“Brett, I can’t believe you made your first trip to Nyland Thursday night against Bowling Green.”
The number of times I’ve been told my choices for a game sucked matters. But hear me, this is important. For example, I am a 3rd generation graduate of BGSU. Also, I closed this when it was still a Saturday.
What a lovely day when Volunteer Football is played on Rocky Top. Tennessee game day – no matter what day of the week – is matched by few and defeated by fewer. We started our game day downtown at Market Square, a collection of local restaurants, shops and bistros. Personally, I recommend a burger from Stock & Barrel (and one of the kind in Tennessee).
There is free parking around the market square all day if you: a) get there early and b) don’t mind getting some exercise. A mile and a quarter walk to Neyland Stadium sends you right past the tail end and across campus. It is well worth the walk to see the sights.
There are quite a few places in the country that have windsurfing. I’m aware of Baylor, Washington, and Tennessee, although there are others. Despite my best efforts, I was unable to reach the sailboat. But seeing the boats on the Tennessee River with partisans and cheerleaders is fun. Other traditional tail hunters flood the streets around the campus. After all, this is the Securities and Exchange Commission we’re talking about.
Get to campus early because the band room is one of the top hits in the country with one of the most popular fight songs.
Tennessee Football Game Day: Niland Stadium
Lots of football grounds are revered, but a select few are truly sacred grounds; Nieland Stadium is sacred ground. It’s a historic stadium with a few changes made since its last expansion in 1996. Throughout my life, this stadium has looked almost the same.
This isn’t an indictment – the streamlined look, sheer scale and historical charm make Nyland Stadium great.
Like many ancient stadiums (begun in 1921), the concourse is like dungeons: dark, narrow, and winding. But there is something different about being in Nyland.
This game was special for a number of reasons, but it was really special because I shared today with my dad. Growing up, he went with his dad to a game in Knoxville (the Cleveland Browns brawl) and we continued that tradition.
Tennessee Football Game Day: The Weather
Tennessee fans were beyond comprehension. Southern hospitality was at its best that day – most likely because of what kind of threat PJ posed to them? And we were greeted with lots of “Welcome to Rocky Top” and smiles. Fans make or break match day, and Vol fans totally made that day.
Go to follow
The Rocky Top fight song is my favorite in the country. Good thing, because he played to death. You mentioned making sure you’d catch up on the troupe’s preliminaries, and I mean it. They make their way across campus and under the University of Tennessee bridge at Niland. It’s amazing and has thousands of fans involved. Maybe even tens of thousands.
I can only imagine what it would be like for a football game in Tennessee against Florida or Alabama. Against Bowling Green, he was excited (at first, the excitement faded as the Vols took control). Against a top competitor from SEC, this place must be insane.
The student section is quite intimidating given its size. Orange fruits are a staple and can get noisy. Yes, you saw what happened against the Ole Miss last year.
The only thing that didn’t seem like a big problem until you were there is that the PA system was having difficulties. Not having a PA announcer is weird and creates a dead atmosphere between plays. Not ideal for week 1.
Tennessee hit the little guy 38-6. What more can be said?
In all seriousness, the result did not accurately paint the picture. The Falcons really hung out there and the game was 14-6 in the first half. In fact, that was only 28-6 going well in the last quarter.
Score day game
Playground: Sometimes, old pitch and mold is good for the soul. History is in the walls of this place. I love him.
tradition: a +. Almost no place has as much history and tradition as Tennessee. Rocky Top, running through the T, Smokey, their dogs spell, checkered end zones, love it all.
Atmosphere: C. I have to put my surprise eyes wide down for this one. It was 8:00 p.m. Thursday kick-off against Bowling Green. I’d be lying if I said the weather was great. The PA system that doesn’t really work hasn’t helped either. Against a top competitor in Saturday’s rush game, I’m sure to turn the tables.
the tail: a. Anywhere Sailgates get an A from me.
fans: a. They are passionate, friendly and loyal. Tennessee has provided some of the best fan experiences I’ve had throughout the trip and it’s definitely the best. Now, if you walked in on the third Saturday in October wearing the wrong colors, it might be a different story.
extracurricular: B-. Knoxville is a great college town with an attractive but really nice downtown area. Great Smokey Mountain National Park is nearby, but Knoxville is a long way from places. It’s a three-hour drive from Nashville and Atlanta and four hours from Charlotte. If you are not in a position to drive reasonably well, you will have time to get here. However, the drive is well worth it.
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