Don and Jen's Great Adventure

When Jen surprised me on my birthday with tickets to the UT- Notre Dame game, I said it would be a great experience regardless of what might transpire in the interim. At that point, UT was enjoying its pre-season #3 rating in the polls, facing Ala- B'ham the next day.

I said it COULD be the culmination of another potential championship run, given it would be the last major challenge aside from SEC championship in one of the toughest strength-of-schedule seasons in the NCAA. Or, it COULD be an opportunity to save face if that schedule had proven too daunting. But regardless, it would be an opportunity to experience big-time college football in arguably the most storied venue of all - Notre Dame Stadium!

As it turned out, the outcome of the game was not important. Sure, another LSU-style comeback would have been sweet, and would have added some icing to the cake. But it was an absolutely fantastic day regardless. The Vols fought hard, we saw some really good, tough football, and they showed, as in most of the other losses, how easily a game can tip one way or the other when two good teams go at it. They also showed that they haven't shaken whatever the self-destruct jinx is that compels them to give away enough points to lose, regardless of how good their defense may be. The tougher the D, the  more the special teams and offense step in to fill the void and make sure the other guys win. And the offense runs several superb plays that fail by inches, while the other guys' succeed.

Anyway, since I was pretty much resigned to the probable outcome, it didn't detract an iota from a great experience. After all, I've been a Cub fan for 25 years, so I'm used to it.

As those who knew me in high school will attest, it does not take much suggestion to get me to behave like a complete idiot. So when Boone wrote back in September that I should start planning my costume for the game, well, the gauntlet had been thrown. Little did I know that Shelton would step in at the 11th hour to provide the ultimate crowning glory to my tonsorial splendor.

I received many compliments from ND fans, Tn fans, ushers, traffic controllers, and the Indiana State Police. One usher did say he would have to check the rule book before allowing me into the stadium, and several people pointed out that Halloween was the previous week.

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