As I have already posted here that our adult children attended the Oregon vs. Tennessee football game in Knoxville Tennessee and endured a thunder and lightning storm that delayed the game for about 70 minutes during the 1st Quarter. With our son's permission here is his summery of their trip to Knoxville.
Thought I would give a little flavor of the Oregon-Tennessee fan experience:
Walking around Knoxville it sure seemed like there were more Duck fans there than could be observed in the stands (although our numbers may have been deceptive based on how we were seated). At our hotel (Holiday Inn) in Knoxville the place was largely filled with Duck fans (and a few Tennessee fans). On Friday night there were quite a few Duck fans around campus and at Calhouns. Heard a lot of good things about the restaurant before hand, and the place exceeded its reputation. I normally hate cole-slaw, but the cole-slaw at Calhouns made me really love it. Everything I tasted on their menu was beyond good. Oregon fans were all over the place, and because the crowded line in the bathroom was exclusively made up of Duck fans, one observed it was almost like being at Autzen. However, the number of Ducks were deceptive as most Tennessee fans were probably engaged in their normal Friday night routine while the visiting Ducks were hitting all the major “to do” things in Knoxville.
Almost all the Tennessee fans we encountered were exceedingly nice and friendly—a lot of Southern hospitality. It probably helped that we weren’t an SEC or U$C fan base. Some of the ticket scalpers dressed in Tennessee gear expressed some jealousy about my yellow Barner jersey. I heard another Tennessee fan (female in her 40s) I overheard mention that she really liked the Oregon yellow as I passed by in my jersey. And, in one of the more interesting images of game day, I saw two parents dressed in Tennessee gear and a little kid (that looked like their son) dressed in a Duck jersey. While we were perched way up on one of the stadium ramps we were able to look down as the Oregon Duck was entering the stadium. Two young kids in Tennessee gear went running after him to offer high fives. Thank God Disney gave Oregon the full rights to the Duck, his exposure on ESPN is making him a nation-wide star!
While the Tennessee fans on the whole were very nice, there was one fan who was kind of obnoxious telling us that “this isn’t the pac-10” before the game, suggesting that Oregon didn’t know what it was in for having played in an easier conference. During the game Tennessee fans would chant “SEC” to show their pride in their conference (in the last minute of the game Duck fans chanted “SEC” in a bit of friendly jesting). Also, Tennessee fans would cheer fairly loud for their team when they gained only a yard or two, a lot of Duck fans around me noticed and found that strange.
As for the thunderstorm delay, I think that worked in Oregon’s favor. It allowed Oregon to analyze Tennessee’s two offensive series allowing the coaches to go over X’s and O’s on defense since Oregon wasn’t sure what their full package would be going into the game. (Obviously it didn’t help us with their defensive scheme, but at least they didn’t see our full offensive package). As for the fan experience during the rain delay, we were up at the very top of the stadium corner, and the logjam going into the tunnel was almost exactly like the Rose Bowl. In fact, the tunnel areas seemed like they were even narrower than the Rose Bowl (although the view of the field was a vast improvement since we had a better angle looking down and could actually see what was happening on a play). Ultimately we ended up pulling on ponchos on, putting our heads down and ridding out the worst of the rain storm (despite the wettest down pour ever experienced during a game, we stayed remarkably dry, only our feet got soaked). When the lightening got really bad, intense and close, we moved down along the bleachers (the steps were still clogged all the way to the top), in order to avoid the most dangerous area of the stands. Finally, when the rain stopped pouring the hardest, the tunnels were clear enough for us to work our way through. When play was set to resume we had another Rose Bowl moment getting back into our seats. Yet, all in all it was a very fun experience. The first quarter and a half were very scary (and I’m not talking about the weather). The final part of the half made things exciting, and the second half made things fun. This game gave the Oregon spectator the full spectrum of feelings one can experience during a game, which is really what college football is all about. GO DUCKS!!
The Ducks won 48 to 13 in front of 103,000 people. Both kids made it to their homes safely on Sunday and called us with their reports on the game. I love it that they were able to experience this trip together. It will go down in family history along their trips to Michigan and Purdue a few years ago; or when our son was age 6 the two of us experienced a sub 0 wind chill factor when he and I went to Oregon's first Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. in December of 1989; or the game our daughter and I had when we witnessed "The Pick" against the Washington in 1994; or the 2001 Fiesta Bowl win against Colorado on another father/son trip . These are all family experiences we will not soon forget.In the end it's all about family. Next up Portland State in Eugene next Saturday. My wife and I will be there. Just win the day. Go Ducks!