Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Gators, be gone!

The best part of the Tennessee men's basketball thumping of the No. 5 Florida Gators last night at Thompson-Boling Arena didn't happen on the court.

Oh, there were plenty of good moments. Dane Bradshaw's 3-pointer from the corner. Pat Summitt leading a round of "Rocky Top." Peyton Manning getting a standing O. Being up by as much as 27 points.

But, no, that wasn't it. My favorite moment happened with 1:30 to go in the second half, when the two classless Florida partisans sitting beside me in Section 314 stomped away to the exit. I hope they had a long, hard drive back to Gainesville.

Forgive the sour disposition. I have no respect for bad sportsmanship.

Thought these guys were going to be OK. They were quiet at first, clapping when Florida scored, shaking their heads when their team messed up.

But as the Rocky Top beating unfolded, they couldn't take it. True colors came shining through.

"The only way this team can win an SEC championship is with its women's team.""I can't believe they're whining about the P.A. announcer interrupting Lofton's free throw."

Those were two tame comments. I just smiled, content with my orange-tinged view of the scoreboard.

A friend once likened Florida to "new money" and Alabama to "old money." "Alabama fans have won before. They know how to act. It's all new to Florida. They don't have any class."

A Neyland Stadium usher told me that Bama was his favorite crowd; Florida was the worst.

Oh, well. These two ran for cover. We stayed and swayed to the strains of the "Tennessee Waltz." We watched Bradshaw jump into the students' section to celebrate. We sang "Rocky Top" again just because we could.

My 15 minute ride back to Halls was a happy one.


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