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Loran Smith - Music City

Music  City
By Loran Smith
Music  City
By Loran Smith



NASHVILLE—With all the conference realignment which has taken place, you hear about all the travel costs and headaches which will come with expansion which will have, in the Big Ten, UCLA and Southern Cal playing in New Brunswick, N. J., and State College Pennsylvania.

What about all the class time that is going to be missed just to travel with your respective team? You fly across three time zones, and you need at least 24 hours for your body to acclimate.

Whataboutthefans? Theremust be many fans who drive to games in the BigTen. I’mguessingtherearesomediehard fans who drive to all road games, but it is a lot different driving from State College, Penn., to Ann Arbor, Michigan (390 miles) than to the West Coast.

It was bad enough for Big Ten fans to drive say from State College to Lincoln, Neb., a distance of 1,073 miles.

It would take you 46 hours and 25 minutes to drive from LA to New Brunswick and 38 hours and 47 minutes to get to State College by car. This means that not many fans will be driving to the eastern campuses of the Big Ten or from those on the East side of the country motoring to the West Coast.

With Oklahoma and Texas coming into the Southeastern Conference, a Bulldog fan, for example, can drive to Austin (976 miles) and Norman (925 miles) in a day if he chooses to.

While the college game, even with all the problems that are constantly forecast, remains the greatest of games, it is easy to see that greed is rearing its ugly head. Next thing we know, a kid will score three touchdowns in kindergarten competition and then sign with an agent.

Since the last of the fifties, I have been coming to Nashville often. Competition with Vanderbilt sports teams has been the main reason for my visits here, but there have been other motivations to hang out in Music City over the years.

I have watched Nashville grow from about 171,000 in 1960 to 690,000 today. It has always been a favorite city to visit, but every SEC venue has something re- continued from page

deeming about its environs andattractions. Nashville has always been a “feel good” city dating back to the Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman Auditorium.

There are fishing and hunting options for most SEC venues and abundant golf courses. History such as the Hermitage, the home of Andrew Jackson, in Nashville and then there is all the excitement you find in New Orleans.

Georgia played Auburn in Columbus for years and you might not think of great attractions connected with this city, but you can discover some of the most uplifting scenery in our state on the Pine Mountain Ridge.

Florida in Jacksonville became my favorite trip, dating back to my undergraduate days. Fishing for a couple of days in advance of the big cocktail party in Jacksonville with former Georgia player and coach John Donaldson brought about the greatest of times in our state’s coastal waters. Lately, we have been hosted by Vernon and Patricia Brinson at Ponte Vedra. Nothing like a bottle of Bordeaux overlooking the ocean on a moonlight night. Baton Rouge and bayou living, Oxford and William Faulkner and the other personalities who have passed that way, driving over the mountain to get to Knoxville all make for wonderful travel experiences. And to see the horses run at Keeneland when you play Kentucky, is sensational, stirring, and unforgettable.

For years, the leaves turning during the weekend of Vandy and Kentucky games were a bonus which sadly, with the schedule changes, have gone away. Regrettable.

Nashville remains a favorite destination in SEC football travel opportunity. Now that it is bursting at the seams, I am wondering what it will be like when it becomes a big city and big city problems become part of its fabric. Perhaps you remember when you could enjoy Atlanta and not be fearful of being robbed at gunpoint in a restaurant parking lot.

I can remember Printer’s Alley where Boots Randolph used to hang out at a place called “The Carousel.” There might be a lull at some point and Boots would suddenly grab his saxophone and play “Yakety Sax.”

In those days, schools wanted to win the conference title and play in a big bowlgame. Nowitisyearround focus on winning the national championship while pocketing millions of dollars, which begs the question. Are we any better off than in those provincial days?

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