I love Alabama fans. I have to. After all, an entire branch of my family tree comes from the Southern state that stars fell upon. Growing up as a Tennessee fan with an Alabama-alumnus father made for an interesting time come football season. I and my brothers were forced to wear crimson clothing as young children, the photographs of which popped up at inopportune times like wedding receptions.
In case you’re not from the South, you may not know that the Third Saturday in October traditionally plays host to the Tennessee-Alabama game. And traditionally, Alabama fans lead up to game day with a grand chorus of downplay and self-doubt.
No matter what the Tide’s record, Bama fans always set themselves up for a loss. “Alabama is sorry this year,” they’ll say, “it’s a wonder that they’ve even won a game.” And so the the naysaying will go. Every. Single. Year.
And yet Alabama leads the historic rivalry 44-37-7.
This year, the #7 Vols outrank the unranked Tide in the polls. Tennessee (5-1) has a better record against better teams than does Alabama (5-2). Ostensibly, the Vols have better players — and we all know that Tennessee head coach David Cutcliffe can outsmart Bama coach Dennis Franchione with ease.
Just this once, I’ll agree with the Bama fans. Alabama really is “sorry.”
And yet it is still the Third Saturday in October. The slate is cleared every time — and every time, I hope the Bama fans are right.