|I like them all. And there's nothing wrong with that.|
My daddy raised me to hate the Vols. He hated the Vols. His daddy hated the Vols. It's a family tradition to hate the Vols. So, I hate the Vols.
When I was a small child, my family had Vanderbilt football season tickets. My first football experiences were at Vanderbilt Stadium, sitting behind the goalpost in Section J. So, Vanderbilt has always been first in my heart. And, of course, being a Nashvillian by birth doesn't hurt either. Vanderbilt is our team. The university and its athletics team has always done a superb job of representing our city, and as a Nashville fan, I'm forever a Vandy fan. First and foremost. Even through all the crappy times.
I also grew up an Alabama fan. Part of that was natural in the Vol-hating, but part of it was, again, because of my dad. There's a photo of me at 9 months old, sitting on my dad's lap. He's wearing an Alabama Crimson Tide t-shirt. My dad was always an admirer of Bear Bryant, and whenever Alabama was on TV, we were watching Alabama (if we weren't at the Vandy game, of course). In my mid-twenties, I actually moved to Alabama and lived there for four and a half years (from 2005-2010) and worked in sports radio. The station I programmed (WUMP - Huntsville) is the Crimson Tide affiliate for North Alabama. So, I covered the team on a weekly basis. It also didn't hurt that the Alabama woman I met and fell in love with (and eventually married) is a huge Alabama fan, as is most of her entire family. So, while my love for Alabama began out of a hatred for the Vols, it's eventually grown into a true love for Alabama. As a matter of fact, I really don't hate the Vols anymore. I still don't like them. I still don't want them to win. But now, like a true Alabama fan, I despise Auburn. Tennessee is just a fly in the ointment.
Then, there's my beloved Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders. MTSU is my alma mater. They probably should be my favorite college football team, but let's be honest... they're in the Sun Belt Conference. It's just not the same. I hope they do well, but I don't keep up with them the way I keep up with SEC football. I'll go to a couple of MTSU games this fall, but it's really more of an excuse to go back to campus. I love MTSU with all my heart. I spent two amazing years there, after transferring in from a community college at my junior year. But it's definitely more of a love for the university than it's football team.
The problem with having 3 favorite teams who are this close in proximity (and two of which are in the same conference) is that every now and then, they play each other...and that is painful. Vanderbilt faces Alabama on October 8. I don't yet know who I will root for. Either way, I'll be happy and I'll be sad. I love them both. When Vandy and MTSU played three times between 2001 and 2005, I pulled for Vandy every time...even as I was a student at MTSU. MTSU won all three games. That sucked. But it was great.
So, don't call me a fake fan. Don't think I'm less of a fan than you because I chose to divide my allegiances three ways. That's the way I choose to enjoy college football season. It's been that way for years, and it will continue to be that way. I love all three of those schools and I want them all to do well. And I really don't care what you think about it.