With the advent of March Madness upon us, you probably think today's title would indicate that I'm flaunting some type of Tyler Hansbrough jersey. Well, I'm not. Personally, I'm going with my some-what-of-an-alma mater of Kent State. (Go Golden Flashes!) And, then, once they pack their suitcases and head home, I'm pulling out Vol "orange". Of course, as Pitt will tell you, never count out, completely, the Mid-American Conference. They can help toss a team's dreams right in the wastebasket.
No, I'm feeling "love" for the Tar Heel State because the Matt-Man has joined the Fayetteville team at Classic Hits "96-5 The Drive". Yeah! Dave Stone gave me the good word this week, so we're all ready to "get busy" . Who knows, Stoney may have fondness for the Dukies...or some other team in the ACC. I should probably find that out. In a hoops-crazed state like North Carolina, one has to be careful as to what colors one sports on "Tobacco Road".
I continue to be fascinated by the stories behind "rivalries" and team affiliations. Primarily, aside from the soft spot I have for Notre Dame because of my father's intense love of the Irish, I always grew up more of a professional sports fan. Although I flirted with a few rogue teams during adolescence, I'm a "Cleveland" guy, through and through. It wasn't until I started working in Knoxville back in the late 90's that I really tasted what collegiate sports are all about. (I mean, there was a guy who lived in Oak Ridge, not too far from Knoxville, who actually...taped his ankles...prior to Vol kick-off!? O.......kay.) I remember sitting at a Tennessee basketball game with Tim Sheehan, another fellow northerner who came to the mid-South to help wreak havoc on east Tennessee radio. (Tim and I have reunited again, this time on the mighty I-95 in Danbury, Connecticut!) We were both sitting in our orange seats, draped in orange sweat-shirts, surrounded by 17,000 other people who were adorned in orange gear, staring out at an orange court, and he turned to me and said, "You know, there's no other place on the planet where you would be caught dead wearing this shade of orange on anything!" He's right.
I voiced a few commercials for the Fox crew at WCOV-TV in Montgomery, Alabama yesterday and Jacob, one of the talented video guys in the creative services department, complimented me on the fact that I pronounced something in similar fashion as they would pronounce it in the South. I mentioned something to the effect that some of that time spent in Knoxville helped. Mere nanoseconds passed and an email arrived: "You didn't really buy anything defiled with univ of tennessee colors, logos etc did you? if so, you just lost mucho coolness points!" Oops. I didn't ask him whether he was "Roll Tide" or "War Eagle", but I had committed a horrible faux pas and as a non-rookie, I knew better. I mentioned that I "lately had just been wearing t-shirts with the SEC logo on it" in a valiant attempt to save face, to which he replied, "that would be the only thing that would save a TN lover".
I love it. I've been to Tuscaloosa to see the Tide go at it against the Bayou Bengals, and he's right: the SEC is the best conference. I'm sure the Big Ten think so by now.
So as not to upset my new friend in Fayetteville, I have removed all vestiges of orange, Kent State, and Notre Dame and am sporting only the "ACC" logo. There's safety in numbers.
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