Back from Tennessee…

September 5, 2006

Gradually, over this last week, my taste buds have righted themselves. Food tastes good again! Some of it burns and hurts going down, but that seems not to be food specific, but almost random, as simple things like water still sometimes hurt. But I was able to sample some fine southern BBQ, and actually eat meat, so that’s all returning to normal. Not 100%, but enough to enjoy food.

All of this was just in time, as I’ve been waiting for this Cal – Tennessee game since it was originally scheduled back in 2003. Similar to the Holiday Bowl two years ago, virtually everything has been great — except for the game itself.

The pregame festivities were really impressive. A random Tennessee fan, “RockinGrannyVol”, invited all Cal fans to her tailgate via cyberbears, the Cal football message board. It was great — awesome bbq sauce, and delicious smoked brisket, pulled pork, chicken, potato salad, and banana pudding. All tasted YUM!

The atmosphere at Neyland Stadium certainly got me goosebumps, especially when their band march down the street and stopped to play in front of what must have been 30,000 people sitting “on the hill”. We followed the band down into stadium, which at 107,000, is HUGE. The stadium was bigger, the fan support was louder, and the whole experience just that much larger than any other game I’ve been to. The size and universal “sea of orange” at Neyland stadium was impressive. I had no idea that much orange clothing was actually made, let alone worn, let alone all worn by 100,000 people on the same day.

We went to Chattanooga the day after the game and had a great time at a Civil War battlefield, and topped it off with another BBQ meal — dry-rub, Memphis style rib and wings combo, and pecan pie for dessert. The ribs and wings tasted great!! Yum! The pie was mediocre, probably because the pie was actually… mediocre. Ribs and wings good! I can eat meat again! Hurrah!

The game, on the other hand, was a disaster. We have a QB quarterback controversy, the controversy being “do we have a good one?”. Apparently there are some freshmen waiting in the wings. Bring ’em on. Our secondary looked completely pathetic — any good passing team will shred us apart. So much for the national championship run. At this point, an 8-4 season looks great, with losses to Tennessee, USC, Oregon, and one other road game. The upcoming Minnesota game now becomes HUGE.

The best thing about the game was sitting next to Pete Sharbarum and Ed Bartlett, both Pappy’s Boys. Pete was responsible for getting that cool statue of Pappy Waldorf installed across from Faculty Glade. It was great to talk football with these Cal legends, and really fun to join them in their chants of “get that ball”, “block that kick”, and “break his arm” as Cal finally got some points on the board in the 4th quarter and we pretended the game wasn’t out of reach.

So, expectations get reset. The good news here, is that both Brian and I will definitely beat this cancer thing because we have to see Cal play in the Rose Bowl in our lifetimes, and the way they looked in Knoxville, that certainly won’t be for awhile.

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