Ten long years ago, I moved to Mobile, Alabama. I had left a Hokie hotbed and journeyed south. I was pointing my rental truck down the map until I hit water. I was ready to start the grown up portion of my life, and with an A.M. radio to keep me company, what possibly could go wrong?
It started around Knoxville as my radio jocks were having a field day picking Phillip Fulmer apart. I then begin to notice all the orange. I was chasing orange all around me. As the interstate faded into the horizon, a "Vols Country" decal on a Subaru led me into the heart of Tennessee. As the talk show hosts were debating who would be the best fit to lead Tennessee back into prominence, something occurred to me. I was witnessing a coup-de-tas, or more appropriately a coup-de-phil. Fulmer had been a consistent performer in the S.E.C., and brought a national championship home on the back of Tee Martin. I soldiered on into the night.
I crossed into Alabama sometime after midnight, and as if on cue the one working speaker in my Ryder truck managed to squawk out "Sweet Home Alabama". I thought it was kismet, or perhaps blind luck, I stayed at the Key Largo Inn for rest. The next morning, as I trudged into the office to check out reality set in. All around me crimson "A's" were prominently displayed for sale. The morning clerk himself was proudly wearing a ROLL TIDE t-shirt. Nothing new to report here: I could easily check out in Roanoke, Galax, or Richmond, and see a Hokies tee or merchandise for sale.
With the A.M. fading in and out, I got into serious 'Bama country. I had two choices for entertainment. On 1360 (approximation), I had the good reverend telling me about ways I hadn't even considered for eternal punishment....and then there was Paul. Actually I didn't hear Paul. I heard a caller talking for what seemed like an eternity on the pros and cons of the current offensive philosophy. I listened to this particular caller for so long, I thought he was the host. I can't remember exactly what the point of the whole thing was, I just remember the Tide needed to include the tight end more. Then Finebaum chimed in to thank the caller for pointing out all the fundamental flaws of the current coaching staff and cued the next caller.
The next caller said some other disparaging remarks about Mike Shula and the rest of my drive into Mobile was confusing. I remember living in Virginia watching C.B.S. and wondering, "Why are the showing this "Iron Bowl"?. Why does this matter. Why are these teams getting a national game? I was a student of the game to know enough that Alabama had Paul "Bear" Bryant and a ton of national championships, but that was ancient history. To ask me Alabama won when there were 6 teams playing college football and 2 were Army and Navy.
I finally found my humble abode (without gps mind you) and began the arduous task of unloading. I was scoping the parking lot in my apartment complex and had an epiphany, "Man, there sure are a lot of Auburn fans down here." Little did I know that this was my first foray into S.E.C. country. I wiped my hands on my Hokies Sugar Bowl t-shirt and grabbed another box.
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