The Third Saturday in October Should Never Go Away
So many debates are happening right now about should the SEC go to a 9 game conference schedule and how that would affect historic rivalries like The Third Saturday In October-Tennessee vs. Alabama. This game dates back to 1901 and is one of the most storied games in all of college football history.
This one game is the reason in state recruits choose to come to Tennessee, at least when I played. I can remember my dad taking me to this game in Knoxville on a crisp fall afternoon and the atmosphere was different than any other game day. When Coach Majors first started recruiting me back in 1984, this was the first game he talked about. “Come To Tennessee and be a part of history when we beat Alabama”. When I arrived on campus in August 1986 as a cocky freshman, I only heard to words, “BEAT ALABAMA”. This single game has so much meaning, so much passion between two states that it would be unspeakable to discontinue this hated rivalry between the two schools. I never had the opportunity to beat Alabama and have the celebratory cigar that comes along with the victory. This game isn’t about records or rankings.
When I played in these games, we were ranked in the top 10 three times, once in the top 5. Alabama was ranked in the top 10 twice, once at number two in the country in 1986. This is ALABAMA vs. TENNESSEE. It means more than just a victory. It means you have bragging rights for a year over your arch rival. Families are sometimes divided for this game, friends become enemies during this week. Both cities ramp up for this game. Are we seriously talking about making this a game that is played every four to five years on a rotation to accommodate the rest of the SEC teams 9 game conference schedules? I know Mike Slive has done great things for the SEC and forced the hand of other conferences around the country making the SEC the crown jewel, but this one game not being played would tarnish his legacy the commissioner for the greatest league in all of college sports.