A meditation on Tennessee hate week

It’s finally here. The week we’ve all been waiting for. The week during which Alabama fans of all ages come together to express that purest of fanatical emotions: the hate of Tennessee.

Other schools’ fans, and even some members of our own base, often fail to understand this hate, or why we take such joy in it. Tennessee has hardly been relevant for around a decade now, and Auburn is our main rival anyways, right?

These points are in fact, irrelevant to the spirit of this week. It doesn’t matter if Tennessee hasn’t done anything of football worth since before the last couple years of Phillip Fulmer’s tenure as the Vols coach. This simply makes it easier to recognize what has always been true: Alabama hates Tennessee.

As for the rivalry question, Auburn may be the primary rival, particularly given their proximity and the pervasiveness of their fans in our state, but Tennessee is in fact our oldest rival, and the Third Saturday in October has seen arguably as many important and dramatic moments in the Tide’s history as has the Iron Bowl.

But why hate Tennessee so passionately? Well, the question has already been far better than I could in the immortalized words of Irvin Carney, UA grad and Tennessee Hater-in-Chief.

Carney outlines the many justifications for hating Tennessee. They’re low-down. They’re dirty. They’re some snitches. They’re annually cloned quarterbacks. They’re a garbage truck workers’ convention passing as a stadium. And of course their colors.

See, orange is already a bad enough color as it is, and the various shades that bafflingly populate college football teams from Texas to Auburn to Clemson to Florida are each repulsive in their own right. But the Volunteers’ orange is particularly nauseating. As Carney puts it, “It’s not that orange you can sit with.”

Now, it should be noted that Tennessee Hate Week is not concerned with the state as a whole. I was born in Memphis and have family in Nashville, and while Alabama has been my home since I was two weeks old, I still feel a certain connection with the state. I even have a brother who still obstinately pulls for the Volunteers and who will try to convince you that I too was briefly a Tennessee fan in second grade.

This is of course a fabrication, and I’ve made sure there is no physical evidence validating the allegation.

But I digress. No, hating Tennessee is about hating the institution of Tennessee football, and this week is the time for us to unify in that righteous hatred.

So, this week, show your hate. Don’t wear orange and properly scold all who do. While I love fall and Halloween, it would be inappropriate to buy a pumpkin this week. Unless of course, you are planning to smash it. And insult, mock and deride everything about Tennessee football. Let the hate flow through you. Roll Tide.

Mark Hammontree is a senior majoring in secondary education - language arts. His column runs weekly on Mondays.

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