Behind Enemy Lines: A Tide Fan in Tennessee


Many Crimson Tide fans live in the state of Alabama – but what about those fans that live out of state? And specifically – what’s it like for those Alabama fans living in Tennessee the week of the Bama vs UT game?

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The air is finally starting to cool in Nashville. Temperatures have dwindled into the seventies for the first time in months. The leaves are starting to change. Days are growing shorter. We’re into the meat of the SEC football schedule, and for the Crimson Tide and Volunteers, a matchup with College Football Playoff implications looms.

Knoxville is predicted to feel like 76 degrees with partly cloudy skies overhead when #1-ranked Alabama takes to Neyland Stadium to battle #9-ranked Tennessee. Nick Saban’s bunch remains a perfect 6-0, while Butch Jones’ squad sits at 5-1 after a deflating loss to Texas A&M last week. Las Vegas seems to think the Tide will be 13 points better than the Vols, but anything can happen in the SEC.

But, you already knew all of this. That’s why you’re reading Bama Hammer. You’ve followed your beloved Crimson Tide through six games. You’ve caught the Big Orange here and there where you can. You know they’re being heralded as a “team of destiny,” or “comeback kings.”

Like many rivalries among college football fanbases, Bama-UT is less about actual football than it is a territorial showdown between regions.

No one partakes in Alabama-Tennessee “hate week” to point out the weaknesses in Jalen Hurts’ throwing mechanics or Butch Jones’ first half coaching strategy. That’s what professionals do. This rivalry is personal – fans are calling each other toothless hillbillies, insinuating incestuous relations, and generally insulting the intelligence of each other.

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You stand alongside your comrades and berate your opposition gleefully. Alabama fans mock Joshua Dobbs’ lack of eyebrows. Tennessee fans call Trent Richardson a bust. Each fanbase tries to one-up the other with mention of names like ‘Derek Dooley’ and ‘Mike Price.’

Crimson stands with crimson, and orange stands with orange. It’s all well and good, unless, of course, you’re one of us who wear our crimson in a sea of orange, or vice-versa.

I call Nashville, Tennessee home. I can recall watching Crimson Tide games with cousins and uncles from the time I was a young child. Simply put, I grew up with it, but not in it.

Fast forward to 2016, and I’m one of a few guys in the office sporting an Alabama ‘A’ on my hat. I’ve become known as “the Alabama guy.”

Maybe it’s because I rotate between about eight different Crimson Tide shirts for my entire wardrobe.

It could be because I say “Roll Tide” to anyone sporting the same ‘A.’

The Nick Saban statue at my desk that I pray to every morning may have something to do with it. I don’t know.

One thing is certain, though. I inevitably catch hell worse than any Crimson Tide fan from Alabama. A sense of betrayal creeps in and shrouds those who root for teams outside their region. It’s like the Civil War. Brother versus brother, and I’ve chosen the wrong side.

I always hear the whispers. I’m not loyal. It’s borderline immoral to root for a team not named Tennessee. Only traitors cheer for the Crimson Tide – even in Nashville. Even in a city that’s become known as a melting pot; as a town chock full of Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, LSU, Auburn, Kentucky, and Arkansas fans. Lest we forget, Nashville’s Vanderbilt technically produces SEC football, too. Technically.

In our quest to dethrone Atlanta as the unofficial capital of The South, Nashville has become progressive in many ways. Still, we can’t seem to shake this notion that people born in Tennessee must root for teams in Tennessee. There’s a myriad of reasons they don’t have to. Namely, your rooting interest in sports is completely inconsequential to everyday life. But, I digress.

(By the way, this isn’t a specific Tennessee issue – I’d be willing to bet this happens everywhere)

The point is that this issue is rooted deep within our collective psyche. In SEC country, the team you root for is a reflection of your identity. When your identity doesn’t fall in line with what your region dictates, a disconnect is created. That’s silly. However, I don’t expect Vols fans to get over it any time soon.

Next: Alabama Football Podcast: Arkansas

Am I going to be raked over the coals for saying that? You bet. Do I care? No. The truth hurts. It doesn’t matter. I root for Alabama because I grew up with Crimson Tide football. My family names dogs ‘Saban’ and teaches its children ‘Roll Tide’ before their ABCs. It’s sports, people. R-E-L-A-X.

And, for those of you reading this down in God’s Country, just know you have thousands of flag-bearers in the Music City. Roll Tide.

Roll Tide forever.