"We don't give a damn about the whole state of Alabama, whole state of Alabama, whole state of Alabama. We don't give a damn about the whole state of Alabama....we're from Tennessee."
Those were the words that rang from the jubilant Tennessee locker room late Saturday afternoon, just a few minutes after the Volunteers had knocked off 21st ranked Auburn 30-24 and the singing was led by none other than Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer. It was a fitting moment as Coach Fulmer had just witnessed the Vols snap an 11-game SEC losing streak; one that dated back to November of 2016. It was a very happy moment in Big Orange country and that's something that has been missing for a long, long time.
The song that the Volunteers sang after that big win is one that has been sung for decades following a Tennessee victory.
I don't know how far it goes back nor do I know who actually started the tradition. But I do know one thing.....those who are fortunate enough to actually be in the Tennessee locker room when that song is sung will always remember the words and the joy it brings.
I'm so glad that I was once able to hear the "locker room choir" perform the simple but catchy little song several times. The one time I remember most was in 1992 after Heath Shuler had led the Vols to a huge road win at Georgia. Phillip Fulmer was Tennessee's interim head coach at the time while Johnny Majors recuperated from heart surgery and he led the singing. Of course Georgia was substituted for Alabama in the words that sunny afternoon in Athens and I will never forget the look on Coach Fulmer's face that day. It was a look of pride in what his team had accomplished. That same look was on his face 26 years later at Auburn.
We must all stop and realize this is just one win. One win against a team that is struggling with three losses in SEC play after being ranked as high as number six earlier in the season. But it is a win and that is one small step in bringing Tennessee back to a relevant position again in the SEC and the nation. Phillip Fulmer has been as much a part of that as anyone. He's the man who picked his school up out of the quicksand of despair and agony following that disastrous search for a head coach late last year. He rescued his alma mater; the same one who sent him packing after a 5-7 record in 2008. He hired a blue collar head coach in Jeremy Pruitt and he trusted him to right the Tennessee ship.
Tennessee will be a big underdog this Saturday when they host top-ranked Alabama at Neyland Stadium. Very few Volunteer fans give them any chance at all at pulling off another stunning upset but we all feel better about our team than we did a week ago. We're getting there, one small step after another. And who knows? It may not be long at all before singing comes blaring out of the locker room once again with these words, "We don't give a damn about the whole state of Alabama. We're from Tennessee."
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Randy Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org