Wednesday, October 22, 2008

wednesday youtube is an essay in streaks

When thinking about the history of Alabama and Tennessee -- at least for the last 20 years or so -- one can't help but think about streaks.

To wit: Alabama lost to UT in coach Bryant's final game at Neyland Stadium (1982) and didn't beat the Vols again for three more seasons. Then, in '86, 'Bama was undefeated and ranked second going to Knoxville.

That win kick-started a streak for the good guys. The very next season, Tennessee was undefeated and ranked in the top-10, coming to Legion Field.

Two years later at Legion Field, both teams were undefeated.

That was probably the day the Bill Curry era peaked at Alabama.
Anyway, the very next season 'Bama lost its first three games under Gene Stallings before finally getting off the schnide against Vanderbilt. Sadly, they had to travel to Knoxville to take on an undefeated Tennessee team.

One of my favorite 'Bama wins of all-time, even now.
The undefeated Tide that eventually won the national championship dominated the Vols at Neyland in 1992.

It was sometime around this point in history that either Roger Schultz or Antonio Langham (no one seems to know for sure) said that Alabama should pay taxes at Neyland Stadium "because we own Tennesee."
Sadly, the streak couldn't last forever -- the next season, Jay Barker and the Tide had to rally at Legion Field to salvage a 17-all tie in the fourth quarter, and even though Barker brought 'Bama back the next season at Neyland for a win over a young Peyton Manning, the Vols turned the tables the next season (unfortunately, no video). Alabama didn't win a game against Tennessee from 1995 until 2002.

And since then, it's been all even. Tennessee won in '03 and '04, but Mike Shula got his only win over Tennessee at home in '05. Yeah, that one.

It was the first win over Tennessee in Tuscaloosa since sometime around the turn of the century. People cried in the stands after Christensen's kick split the uprights.
And the Mike Shula era died a merciful death the very next year in Neyland.
I wasn't holding out much hope for the Vols' return trip in '07 -- after all, my boys were coming off narrow wins against Houston and Ole Miss.

And that's where we are today. Alabama, 3-3 in its last six meetings with the Vols, going to Neyland in an effort to start a new streak and possibly drive a final nail in the Phillip Fulmer era (fitting, since he's one of the people who helped the NCAA cripple our football program).

Once more, with feeling: I hate Tennessee. You should, too.


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