>Happiness Challenge, Day 8

>While in Knoxville, I got to visit McKay’s Used Books. I had a big list of CDs and books I was looking for–a couple of which I found.

One CD that I found was unexpected. Looking through the comedy and spoken-word section for Rick and Bubba CDs, I found a copy of “The Best of the Vol Network, Volume 1.” I picked it up and immediately knew that it had to join my huge CD collection.

It’s packed with highlights of big victories by the Vols (Miracle at South Bend, the Sugar Bowl in 85, the national championship season, the Fiesta Bowl) as well as big plays by quarter. It’s also got the greatest marching band in the known universe playing most of the songs you’ll hear when you see the Vols play in person. Listening to it has got me even more fired up for UT football.

It’s also got a lot of calls by John Ward, who will always be the Voice of the Vols to me. Bob Kessling just isn’t quite as good at making the game come alive in your minds eye as Ward was. Plus, Ward was genuinely a fan who got excited in the booth when the Vols made huge plays or had a huge win. When you tuned in, you knew exactly where the Vols stood just by the tone in his voice. Unlike Bob who UT could be up at 100 or down by two with a minute to go and you just don’t hear the enthusiasm or urgency.

And let me say this–I’m glad that Ward knew when it was time to retire and that he did so with dignity and class. He didn’t pull a Keith Jackson where he says he’s going to retire but then comes back for a few games a year (yes, I’m still annoyed that my tape of the national title game wastes most of the fourth quarter with every turkey from ABC who worked with Jackson talking about how great he was instead of focusing on the game.). And he’s not pulling a Larry Munsen either where this year Munsen will only work the home games and not the away games. Of course, I differ with a lot of people in that I think Larry Munsen is overrated and should have retired years ago. I think people confuse longevity with his actually being a good announcer….

But, anyway, I’m going off on a tangent there…

All I can say is, listening to that CD it’s full of happy memories of big games and the people I shared the excitement of those big wins with. It’s got me (even more) fired up for football season. I hope as my niece and nephew grow older they’ll share or at least understand Uncle Michael’s love of all things UT.

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