Opinion: Alabama-Tennessee rivalry more than result


Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt, left, and Alabama head coach Nick Saban meet on the field after an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018, in Knoxville, Tenn. Alabama won 58-21. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

It has been 13 years since the Tennessee Volunteers beat the Alabama Crimson Tide.

The last time the Vols topped the Tide, the year was 2006.

Daniel Powter’s Bad Day tortured the millions of heads in which it was stuck. Microsoft debuted what it believed was the biggest threat to the iPod – the “Zune.” Tweens soared and flew to the catchy tunes of High School Musical. The very first tweet was sent. @Jack wanted the world to know, “just setting up my new twttr.”

It’s been a minute.

Since then, the Vols have yet to find a way to sing a bad song just to turn it around.

Across the internet and especially on a site that has since added vowels to its name, the Alabama-Tennessee rivalry has been called into question. Why play a game that currently is just an easy win for one team and a guaranteed season-altering loss for Tennessee?

In a historically-streaky series since its inception in 1901, the Tide boasts the longest streak by either team: 12 wins.

But why does the ability to call something a rivalry directly correlate to how close a game is on the field?

It took Army 15 tries to finally beat rival Navy between the years of 2002 and 2016. That’s 14-straight wins for one squad in one of the oldest rivalries in all of college football. But they didn’t stop playing.

Between 1990 and 2010, Florida beat Georgia 21 times in their rivalry. The Dawgs walked away with 3 wins in the span of 20 years. They continue to play.

Why? Because the scoreboard isn’t what makes rivalries great.

The current US President attends the game, the “Prisoner Exchange” brings incredible stories and the insanely precision of the pregame march makes you want to chant, “U-S-A! U-S-A!” from your IKEA couch. The major stubbornness from fans to continue to call it the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party,” despite university heads being outwardly and completely against it, and the full commitment by fans to live up to the forbidden name by putting on epic parking lot parties.

It’s about having a game that’s written in stone on a calendar. So much so the rivalry is nicknamed for when it happens – the third Saturday in October. It doesn’t matter that one side has absolutely nothing to use that happened in the last 15 years as ammo in a pregame drunken spat about who’s team is better. They still argue on. And what could possibly be sweeter than lighting up a crisp Cuban after a hard-fought win in which the extent of your on-field contribution included maybe a delay of game or false start penalty? Nothing I tell you.

A rivalry is much more than the product on the field.

It’s about tradition.

Sure, the Vols had a bad day (or 12 years), but the lack of competitiveness for 60 minutes is not worth giving up the 118 years of tradition.

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