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Tennessee Hate Week Open Thread: The Historical Rivalry

Let the hate flow through you.

F' you too, Tennessee
F' you too, Tennessee

Hating on Tennessee is not merely a worthy use of your days on this earth and a genetic requirement, it’s a long-standing tradition around these parts:

Bammer (2014):

So, most of y'all know I hate Tennessee (just like any good Alabama fan should). Also. most of you know that this hate supersedes my hate for Auburn. And I'm sure most of you know that anything that represents Tennessee, is found in Tennessee, or comes from Tennessee, would be certainly something I hate. I feel no remorse for my feelings and have no plans in the future to reverse my position.

I don't like Fall or Halloween cause people wear a lot of orange this time of year.

Don't even get me started on pumpkins.

I hate Tennessee because they gave us Peyton Manning and millions of boys and girls named after Peyton.

I don't even like how Peyton is spelled. PAY-ton would be how I'd spell it but I wouldn't name my kid a stupid name like that so...

Josh (2012):

Share away, folks, and tell us in the comments why you hate those worthless, moonshine drinking, checkerboard overall wearing, trash can wielding, second rate citizen hill critters who don’t even have the decency to be mediocre enough to keep from dragging down our strength of schedule.

OTS (2010):

I hate a lot of things. I hate onions. I hate pop music. I hate sizzling fajita platters. I hate Gatorade commercials. I hate cable news. I hate going to the bank. I hate horror movies. I hate reality TV. I hate Toby Keith. I hate the term "fashion-forward." I hate John & Kate Plus 8. I hate Time Warner Cable. I hate Verne Lundquist. I hate people who wear North Face jackets when it's 68 degrees outside. I hate Leno.I hate the Red Sox. I hate celebrity "news." I hate Auburn. But I loathe Tennessee.

Now that 2022 rolls around, and the Vols — like a cicada-brood — field their once-a-decade good team, it’s time for you to rediscover that hate (if you’ve forgotten); and, like all good cultural patrimonies, for us to pass along that hate to the next generation.

Since Tennessee last defeated the sanctions-ravaged Tide — sanctions that Alabama incurred, I add, because of Phil Fulmer — the world has seen a lot:

  • The invention of the smartphone, which did not even exist in 2006.
  • Space X would be born, rise to become the largest payload delivery agency to Earth’s orbit, and now turns its sights to extrasolar colonization: Luna and Mars.
  • The worst global pandemic — now in its third year — since the Spanish Influenza outbreak in the waning days of the Great War over a century ago.
  • The rise of supercomputing and the coming artificial intelligence singularity that will profoundly change our world in ways we cannot even envision
  • The second-largest war between nation-states since WWII would begin, and one that has already become the third-deadliest in the last century, behind the Iran-Iraq War and that global calamity.
  • Four United States presidents, that saw the work of the civil rights movement pay off, as an allegedly-racist nation put a black guy in office twice: once in a landslide that was every bit the electoral curb-stomping of Eisenhower, Reagan, and FDR triumphs. As I write this, the United States has a black vice president, which doesn’t even raise a brow of interest, and only passingly was it a thing that this Veep is a woman. That was simply not a world that existed when the Vawls were a fleeting national power a quarter-century ago.
  • The world’s fifth-largest economy, and the second-most populous nation in the European Union, would exit the Paris Accord, triggering (or as part of) a growing Euroskeptic movement that has left a stagnating continent with an uncertain future...even as the UK’s larger fortunes have grown equally uncertain and dim.
  • The end of “strategic competition” and deepening ties with the CCP, as the “global economy” has begun rapidly deglobalizing.
  • The Great Recession and the foreclosure crisis, though we are still living with the world that was created from some of the worst macroeconomic confluences of the last two hundred years.

But it wasn’t just the big stuff that changed, as the Vols wandered the woods. During that time, we’ve also seen:

  • SEC expansion...twice.
  • Georgia finally, tentatively, getting over the hump, even as Auburn, LSU and Florida all claimed trophies.
  • The hiring of Nick Saban
  • Four Alabama Heisman trophies, including a once-perverse notion of the University of Alabama as the go-to spot for elite quarterbacks and wide receivers.
  • 184 more Alabama football victories, 44 consensus Alabama All-Americans, nine more division crowns, eight SEC Championships, and six more national titles for the Crimson Tide
  • Three Tennessee Athletic Directors
  • Five Tennessee football coaches, two more interim coaches, and one giant NCAA shitstorm on the horizon.
  • UT going 0-39 against Top 10 teams
  • And 16 straight losses to the Crimson Tide, only two decided by single-digits, and the others by an average of 31 points.

It has now been 16 years since those consanguineous diddlers and cousin-touchers have beaten the Crimson Tide, and yet that last loss still stings as much as the day that it happened. Should I live another four decades, and my fetid cadaver go to feed the mouldy earth without ever seeing it happen again, it will still be too soon.

With the Volunteers’ hopes now up, and (allegedly) their best team in these lost two decades seemingly poised to topple a vulnerable Crimson Tide, the stage appears set for the cigars to finally come out of checkerboard overalls this season in Neyland.

Which is only going to make their loss all the more delicious.

We may begrudgingly respect LSU. We may live with, hate, and even occasionally love, Auburn fans like a little brother. But there is absolutely no hate that burns in the heart like the white phosphorus loathing between Tennessee-Alabama

Alabama and Tennessee share a 146-mile contiguous land border.

One of the most ambitious public works projects in human history, Roosevelt's Tennessee Valley Authority, took advantage and made use of the expansive Tennessee-Tombigbee river waterway: The end product literally saved the Deep South -- providing electricity to an entire region, creating a post-agricultural South, pulling several states out of decades of post-Reconstruction military occupation and economic stagnation.

Our two states share a long history of military excellence, of yeoman farmers cultivating the original Western frontier, of rolling hills, precipitous mountain drops, unexpected inclement weather -- and, in the right places, an Appalachian temperament unrefined by modern mores or expectations.

This is Tennessee - Alabama.

Sure, the two states now have about 11 million residents between them and are part of the sun belt boom, but Tennessee, like Alabama, is still a rural state. Agriculture is the largest industry of both. Both are noted for tourism. Both have major cities given up for dead which have since revitalized their historical contributions, renovated their downtowns, and now strive for nothing more than to take their place in a vibrant New South.

But, exit those cities, remove yourself from the census data and the feel-good epistles of carpetbaggers, and then our vicious, trouser-dropping, generational-feuding hatred remains: old rules prevail, old enmities emerge, and we are instantly transported back to a more primitive, tribal view of one another.

Despite our similarities in many respects, we are a very different people from Tennesseans. And, at the end of the day, we believe we are a better people than matter where we may have been born or live. It is not about football teams, or schools, or SEC standings, or the historically streaky on-field rivalry. It is one of geography, of mindset, of 300 years of sniping -- with words and worse.

This rivalry defines a word tossed around far too often and too seldom understood - hate: A pure hate, a hate untempered by anything resembling positive regard or civilizing influence. No other competition brings out such a visceral reaction and unmoors our sanity. No other game could make Terrance Cody cry like a skin-kneed child.

This is my story; this is our story. This is why I hate Tennessee; why Bear Bryant hated Tennessee; and, ultimately, why you hate Tennessee.

East Alabama Male College was a land-grant, dirt merchant learnin' shack for hay seeds in West Georgia without access to an education. And, many would argue that has not changed. Still, that place remains a pest, a natural SEC East school and no one really worthy of mention.

LSU is, and has largely been, for over two decades an existential threat -- the games are tight, the stakes high because the teams largely (and usually do) mirror one another. This is a good hate; this is a respectful hate; this is a rivalry that has become far more meaningful over the past 25 years than most rivalries that the media laud.

Tennessee is a different critter entirely.

Aside from Mississippi State, a rivalry only in their fevered minds, Alabama has played no opponent more often. In the SEC, Alabama has won more games, lost more games, played more games, tied more games, played more consecutive games against Tennessee than any other opponent. Alabama's series record against the Vols shows how close and streaky this series has been -- the Tide hold the lead 58–38–7 in 105 meetings.

The Vols are the only team to ever hold a seven-game winning streak against Alabama in the Tide’s 130-year history.

We may sing "fuck Auburn...and LSU" in Dixieland Delight. But, I think we really only understand those words when Tennessee comes to town and the familiar refrain of "fuck Tennessee" becomes one that could, and does, turn to violence far quicker than either fan base would care to admit.

There is a reason that in the '50's, after Bryant arrived, his trainers and then his entire team adopted cigars as a staple of Tide victories. To date, after 100 years of playing present SEC foes, no team receives either the opprobrium or the celebration of beating Tennessee.

This tradition and celebration continues.


We all have personal reasons why we hate Tennessee. Is it in our DNA? If we are alumni or legacies, it's very much ingrained. If we're North Alabamians, it's familiarity with the horribleness and utter stupidity of their fans. Is it the Roy Kramer/Phil Fulmer/Secret Witness/Snitching era? That's a damned good reason. Is it the most classless winning moment in college football history? It's that too.

But, mainly, it's because at the cellular level we know, we've always known, that Tennessee is and remains Alabama's historic rival. The differences are too stark. The history is too long. The violence, the close wins and close losses, the blowouts and streaks, are too painful and too emotional to fully articulate.

This is a rivalry.

This is the rivalry.

Welcome to the Third Saturday In October, a game so important that the nation marks its calendar by it; a rivalry without genteel sportsmanship. There’s no respect here: only hate.

And I hate Tennessee.

Tell us your story. Feed free to be NSFW, but try and keep it outside of NC-17 territory so I don’t get CoralBeth’d