Column: Vol Fans Once Again Show They’re the Best

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    Vol fans are some of the most passionate fans not only in college football, but in all of sports period. Even though UT fans have watched their football team slog through a decade of misery, they’ve still stayed true and supported their team year in and year out. And that’s true once again this year.

    Even after coming off the disappointment of the 2016 season, Vol fans entered 2017 ready to see their Vols take the field once again. Last year, Tennessee fans bought the second-most season tickets in program history heading into the 2017 season. The only time Vol fans bought more tickets before the start of the season was the 2016 offseason when they sold out their season ticket allotment of 72,000.

    Then they were rewarded with UT’s first eight-loss season and first winless SEC season in program history. Talk about losing out on an investment.

    But this year, even after a program-worst season in 2017, Vol fans are proving once again they’re the most passionate and loyal fan base in college football.

    According to Jimmy Hyams, Tennessee’s season ticket sales have jumped up from around 61,000 in late May to over 65,000 with just over two weeks to go till the start of the 2018 season. UT is hoping to get that total to 66,000 by the start of the season because if they do, they will receive a $400,000 bonus to the $2.5 million they’re already guaranteed by opening the season in Charlotte against West Virginia (both schools are guaranteed a $2.5 million payout).

    Not only have Tennessee’s season ticket sales jumped up over the last couple months, but UT just sold out their allotment of tickets for their season opener in Charlotte, too.

    Hyams also reports that UT has sold their allotment of 16,397 tickets for Tennessee’s season opener against West Virginia. Tennessee’s original allotment was 12,000 tickets, but they requested approximately 4,400 more to sell to fans. And Vol fans gobbled them all up.

    Vol fans are known around the country as one of the best fan bases when it comes to traveling for games. Tennessee fans famously took over both the Taxslayer and Outback Bowls in 2014 and 2015 respectively, and they dominated the crowd at the Music City Bowl in 2016 too. They traveled exceptionally well for the Vols’ first game of the season in Atlanta last year too, and the Battle at Bristol in 2016 saw more Vol fans than Hokie fans fill the historically huge venue.

    Tennessee fans received a lot of backlash from the national media in November of last year after they revolted against the hiring of Greg Schiano for head coach. But that was just proof that UT fans have a voice, and they aren’t afraid to make their voices heard either. And when Vol fans are actually on the same page about something, it becomes extremely hard not to hear the racket they create.

    Passionate fan bases can be a double-edged sword. Usually, it’s a good thing and means that the local team is always supported no matter what. Sometimes that passion can be misdirected and lead to some not-so-pleasant moments, but usually a passionate fan base is something desired by coaches and players alike.

    Vol fans largely haven’t been rewarded for their loyalty and passion, though. Tennessee’s historically bad 4-8 season last year was just the latest in a slew of mishaps and mistreatments over the last decade. UT hasn’t won more than nine games in a season since 2007, and the football program has had more seasons below .500 (6) than they have seasons above the .500 mark (4) over the last decade. Not only that, but the Vols have gone a combined 4-26 against Alabama, Florida, and Georgia in those 10 years, and they’re just 2-4 against Vanderbilt over the last six years.

    Yet through all of that, Vol fans have continued to support their university and have rarely wavered. They’ve stood strong and proud despite the embarrassments on (and sometimes off) the field. And they’re proving that once again this year even after going through their fourth coaching change since 2008.

    Vol fans just keep proving that no matter how many times they get kicked, they’re going to stay loyal to the orange and white.



    Nathanael Rutherford
    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.