John Adams: Wait for football too long; season too fast

John Adams

Derek Dooley: Game week preparation for Montana

Get ready for the fast break. It starts this week.

You know how it goes. August drags along like a blocking sled being pushed by sportswriters. But once the college football season starts, the days fly by like plays in Oregon's offense.

If August inches along for fans, you can make an educated guess on how excruciatingly slow the time passes for players. And the pace would be abhorrent even if they weren't butting heads in 90-degree heat.

A little more than a week into preseason camp, Tennessee players were ready for a football game. Imagine how they feel now.

The anticipation is heightened for Anthony Anderson, a fifth-year senior who played high school football at Austin-East and grew up a UT fan.

"This is the most excited I've ever been, knowing it's my last year," Anderson said. "It's amazing how it has gone by so quickly."

His first game at Neyland Stadium was the home opener in 2008 against UAB.

"I couldn't breathe when it finally hit me that I was running out the 'T,' " he said.

I wonder how many other players have lost their breath on the same short run from the tunnel to the sideline. The experience seems more acute for those who saw so many other players make the same run.

Zach Rogers can point to his seats in Neyland Stadium where he watched his brother, Austin, play. That didn't prepare him for his turn.

"I had been coming here for four years," he said. "I sat right up there (pointing to end zone seats)."

He sat, watched, and rose to his feet like the rest of the crowd when the Vols ran through the "T." As exciting as that was, it wasn't comparable to the ground-floor experience.

"When you put on that helmet with the 'T' on it, it's different," he said. "There's that roar of the crowd.

"I still get chills every time I run out through the 'T' no matter what game it is."

This week's season opener against Montana offers no extra boost. The last two years, the Vols opened with a new head coach; for most of their season openers in Neyland Stadium, there has been a bigger-name opponent, a new quarterback or the possible atonement from the previous season to raise the anticipation level.

These Vols have the same coach and the same quarterback as last year. And Montana doesn't quite offer the incentive that top-10 Cal did in the 2006 season opener.

But in a town where football matters so much, there's no such thing as a low-key opener. Even if the stadium isn't full Saturday, who can distinguish between a roar of 106,000 or 96,000 fans?

Sophomore defensive end Jacques Smith looked forward to that roar two and a half years before he actually got to experience it. As soon as he committed to UT as a sophomore in Ooltewah, he was fantasizing about running through the "T."

Said Smith: "When I ran through it, I felt like I was running a million miles an hour."

Once it starts, the season seems to go just that fast.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              865-342-6284      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

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Comments » 15

CrankE writes:

August drags along like a blocking sled being pushed by sportswriters.

Sportswriters can push a blocking sled?

CrankE writes:

"...who can distinguish between a roar of 106,000 or 96,000 fans?"

Who can distinguish a mediocre column from a horrible one anymore? Especially when the sportswriter throws out insults as freely as bad metaphors.

dvhill100 writes:

Nice article. Having run through the T, it is an experience like no other. The rush is off the charts.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to CrankE:

August drags along like a blocking sled being pushed by sportswriters.

Sportswriters can push a blocking sled?

I think that's John's point.

ClearVol writes:

Since JA mentioned oregon i have to recommend everyone check out the dawgs uni's for the boise opener. Very oregonesque or chevy camero'esque. Not quite sure which. ESPN, I believe.

Kelly8 writes:

in response to CrankE:

"...who can distinguish between a roar of 106,000 or 96,000 fans?"

Who can distinguish a mediocre column from a horrible one anymore? Especially when the sportswriter throws out insults as freely as bad metaphors.

Who can distinguish between a mediocre comment and a horrible one anymore? Especially when the commenter throws out insults as freely as cheesy GVX handles.

ClearVol writes:

Okay,I could not help myself, what do you get when you cross a bulldog with an 87 iroc z camaro? No offense camaro lovers.

www.saturdaydownsouth.com/2011/georgia-nike-pro-combat-uniforms/

VolAlum03ISBACK (Inactive) writes:

"...who can distinguish between a roar of 106,000 or 96,000 fans?"

I was 5 rows up from the 50 yard line in the student section when the Vols played Notre Dame in 1999. There were at least 106,000 fans there as it was the second largest capacity crowd as of that date (with the 1998 florida game having set the previous record).

Let me tell you...there is a BIG difference between 96,000 and 106,000. At 96,000, people have some room to spread out. The action dies down between the plays. You can actually sit in your seat in the student section with 96,000. At 106,000 or more...the whole atmosphere is different. The crowd feeds off of itself. It's amazing.

Maybe the players don't feel the difference running through the "T", but pushing that stadium well beyond is maximum official capacity (currently around 102,000) makes the fan experience otherwordly.

Also, after you've sat in the student section...there really isn't anything that compares to it. That is a unique and special experience that I treasure.

chattavfl86 writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What's your point?

MusicCityVol writes:

This headline is one that everyone can agree on, even good ol John. It's just a matter of time now. Tennessee football means so much to so many. This will be an exciting year regardless of record.

This is Why I Love Tennessee Football: Family
http://www.checkerboardchatter.com/20...

rockytopatl writes:

in response to CrankE:

"...who can distinguish between a roar of 106,000 or 96,000 fans?"

Who can distinguish a mediocre column from a horrible one anymore? Especially when the sportswriter throws out insults as freely as bad metaphors.

If you can do so much better, why don't you start your own newspaper?

You get this for free. It's pretty tiresome reading constant hatemongering and moaning from freeloaders.

VolzsFan writes:

There is two things the rest of the country laughs at us in the South about that is legit. One is John Adams. The other is being the only region in America that losses they minds over a bunch of fat thugs playing a nonathletic game.

Two legit (to quit) areas of ridicule. Enjoy your BBQs.

Biggie writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

There is two things the rest of the country laughs at us in the South about that is legit. One is John Adams. The other is being the only region in America that losses they minds over a bunch of fat thugs playing a nonathletic game.

Two legit (to quit) areas of ridicule. Enjoy your BBQs.

Love the grammar.......

Volunatic writes:

in response to CrankE:

August drags along like a blocking sled being pushed by sportswriters.

Sportswriters can push a blocking sled?

Good point, but it's still a good analogy. Along the same lines, molasses doesn't pour at all in January, unless you turn the heat up.
I don't disagree with the message in this column at all.

Volunatic writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

There is two things the rest of the country laughs at us in the South about that is legit. One is John Adams. The other is being the only region in America that losses they minds over a bunch of fat thugs playing a nonathletic game.

Two legit (to quit) areas of ridicule. Enjoy your BBQs.

Shouldn't you be over at moveon.org message boards swapping tofu recipes or something?

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