It’s really hard to put into words what these last few days have been like but I’ll give it a shot.
Since I was a kid, I dreamed of covering collegiate athletics at a high level and it doesn’t get any bigger than the University of Tennessee.
My first opportunity in sports media as a college graduate was covering high school athletics at the WilliamsonSource.com. Which meant that on Friday, October 10th I would be covering Williamson County high school football for the last time before moving to Knoxville the following morning. So, it wasn’t the most ideal time for my first football weather delay. It was a break in the action that lasted almost two hours, making me a sleep deprived reporter for the Chattanooga game.
While I learned pretty quickly that sleep deprivation comes with this career joice, I was hoping to feel refreshed for my first time covering an SEC team.
Last Saturday felt like such a blur that it didn’t fully sink in until the following afternoon how incredible that experience was.
I’ve covered FCS programs, OVC tournaments and Middle Tennessee football. None of which prepared me for what I saw this past weekend.
Looking up at the coliseum that is Neyland Stadium gave me a rush of adrenaline powerful enough to jolt me wide awake.
This wasn’t the first time I’ve been to Neyland but being on the field gave me a new perspective and appreciation for how loud the place gets. It was deafening. The crowd was energetic and when a chorus of “Rocky Top” filled my ears…goosebumps.
The opponent was Chattanooga and Tennessee was coming off of a disappointing loss to a hated rival. Most would say this was a game where the fans weren’t completely into it and the atmosphere was nothing to write about.
Assuming that is the case, I couldn’t help but wonder what Shields-Watkins Field will sound like when Alabama comes to town.
What it will feel like with 102,455 in attendance?
In a couple of years, what will it sound and feel like when Tennessee is on the verge of an SEC East title?
What about in the not-so-distant future when a sea of orange (or checkered) fills the stands for a game with College Football Playoff implications?
Although some may call the previous statement ludicrous, that’s okay. While I don’t exactly do my crossword puzzles in pen, I can say I try to at least be cautiously optimistic. When it is concerning this football program’s future, optimism is something that has come easy to me since Coach Butch Jones was hired.
The notion that it’s not a matter of if but when this team will challenge for a football championship, is what brought me here to begin with. Knowing I would have the opportunity to cover a program destined for success, with a fan base as passionate as any in the world was too good of an opportunity to pass up.
There’s no question, the expectations are higher here. Not just for football but for all the athletic programs. That’s why players want to play here and that is why coaches want to coach here.
I understand the expectations of the media are high as well. To the thousands who frequent this site, I look to bring you a different perspective of what is seen on the football field, basketball court, etcetera. Also, coinciding with the name of this website, provide you guys with inside information on the on-goings of University of Tennessee athletics.
Yes, the expectations are high and that’s why I wanted to be here.