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Alabama basketball fans stand up for Tennessee fan on GAMEDAY

By: John Dunn

Founder, Managing Director, Editor, Host

The All Vol Call in Show

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Typically when you think of Tennessee v. Alabama, the first thought to come to mind is the Third Saturday in October rivalry in football. However, due to the recent success of both the Alabama and Tennessee men's basketball programs, there has been even more hostility and tension added to the already storied rivalry.


This past weekend, Tennessee traveled to Tuscaloosa looking to take down Alabama for the second time this season, inching closer to an SEC regular season title.


With both teams ranked, and a lot on the line, College Gameday made the trip to Tuscaloosa to showcase the two talented teams battling it out for the second time of the season.


Enter: Andrew Sanders. Sanders is a 2020 graduate of Maryville High School in Maryville, TN. He grew up loving Tennessee athletics and bleeding orange. However, the University of Alabama offered the best scholarship for Sanders after graduating high school, prompting for a move to "T-Town."

Photo | Randy Sanders

Although his location changed, his heart remained the same; Sanders is a die hard Tennessee fan, which he regularly makes known amongst his peers behind enemy lines.

Photo | Randy Sanders

On Saturday, Sanders attempted to work his way into the crowd, wearing his Tennessee orange. He was stopped by security and kicked out of line, "we're not allowing that color in here right now," said the security guard.


Sanders is no stranger to sticking out like a sore thumb. Ever seen the photos and memes of the lone Tennessee fan wearing orange in the sea of crimson? (look up in the article) Yeah, that'd be our guy Andrew.

Photo | Randy Sanders

He doesn't shy away from taking any opportunity to showcase his fandom. Sanders spoke on the occurrence at Coleman Arena on Saturday. Highlighting the efforts of "Crimson Chaos" members to help him out.


"I had been looking forward to the Tennessee - Alabama basketball game all year," said Sanders. "I love Tennessee in every sport, but basketball is definitely my favorite and the one I follow most closely. It was only the second time Tennessee had come to Coleman in my four years at Bama. I had planned to get to Coleman at noon and hang out until the gates opened, since that’s how student entry to Alabama basketball games normally works. You get in one of two lines, Crimson Chaos or standard (Crimson Chaos is Alabama’s official student section, which is open to every student who pays the $15 annual dues. It allows early access to basketball games which in turn allows a higher likelihood of being early enough for many giveaways and promotions)."


"But since College Gameday was coming to town, everything operated differently. Gameday was at 11, and the first 2000 people in got wristbands to get early access to the game. I wanted to ensure I got a wristband, so I headed to Coleman at 6 am, decked out in my orange and my Alabama Basketball hard hat with the script A crossed out and "Go Vols" written in dry erase marker. I got some strange looks and saw a couple people take pictures of me, and a few people asked me questions about why I was wearing “that gaudy orange,” but I was generally not poorly received. I sat in the Crimson Chaos line until around 8:45 when they announced that they would be coming around with wristbands in a few minutes so to have our UA Event Pass (a QR specific to each Alabama student) ready to scan."


"When they came out to start scanning, one of the members of the Crimson Chaos executive board yelled out that I was in the wrong line, which I thought was a joke, then the university employee charged with organizing the wristbands told me that he wasn’t kidding and I needed to come over there. I told him the Chaos guy that I actually was a Crimson Chaos member, and he was surprised but told me that the Crimson Chaos president wanted me out but he’d check since I was a member. The staff guy then interrupted him and said that he wasn’t giving a priority wristband to someone in the wrong colors. A few of the other Chaos executive board members spoke up and said that it wasn’t right and that I should get a wristband since I’m a Chaos member, a student, and I was there as early as I was. I met all the criteria and hence should get a wristband."

"The guy said “well he’s certainly not getting a 1st group wristband” and walked away. That was when I learned that there were different priority wristbands among the 2000 that would be allowed into the game in different groups, sort of like boarding a plane. By my place in line I would’ve been in group one, maybe two. So I was standing next to the line as they began handing out wristbands when the three Crimson Chaos executive board members standing nearby told me to get back in line and “don’t let anyone push you around.” So I did, but when the board member scanning QR codes got to me she told me I wasn’t supposed to be there."


"I motioned to the guys who told me to go in and they told her to scan me, but she said she wouldn’t unless the president of Crimson Chaos directly told her to. Another Alabama staffer who was handing out bands saw all of this and apologized to me, but told me he couldn’t give me a band unless I was scanned. So I got back out of line, increasingly frustrated. The guys over there told me there was nothing they could do but they’d talk to the president, who agreed that if I covered up for Gameday I could have a wristband. I agreed, with the stipulation that I was wearing orange to the game. The guy I made that deal with left, and another guy walked up and apologized to me and gave me a wristband. He said “this was the best I could do.” I didn’t know what he meant by that but I gladly took the wristband."


"They brought me one of the shirts they were giving out that night and I changed into it. I stood in the same spot in line I had been in and a few people around me gave me a hard time, but in good spirits. It was about a 50-50 split on people who told me they hated Tennessee but still thought it was messed up that they weren’t gonna let me in and people who told me they were glad they weren’t gonna let me in wearing orange, but were also glad I got the opportunity to change and still got a wristband."


"I hung out up there a bit longer (oddly enough long enough to end up front and center in some pictures with the team when they brought out donuts) until I realized that my wristband was different than those around me. I assumed that maybe they had gotten down to group three before they got me one or something, so I decided to walk back in the line and find out how far back my group was. I caught all the way up with the people handing out wristbands without seeing one that matched mine. I asked the guy who had apologized to me earlier which group I was in, and he told me it was the last group (group 6), which they hadn’t even gotten far enough back to start handing out yet."


"He apologized and said if it was up to him I would’ve gotten the band like normal, but he couldn’t do anything. I told him I understood and then just found some friends in line and stood with them since it was unlikely I was getting in at the front anyway. When I was standing with them, one of the Chaos execs came to me and told me told me to keep what was about to happen quiet. He slipped me a group 5 band and let me know that it wasn’t much, but at least put me in the range of person 400-600 to enter the game instead of 600-2000. He got the band by saying there was a scanning error for someone in line but that he had gotten it sorted and needed a band to give him, and so that was the band he got since they were up to group 5 at that point."


"He told me that it irked him to no end that I wore Tennessee gear, but in his opinion it is not their job or right to decide which due-paying students get student tickets and don’t and that what had happened was wrong. I told him I appreciated him going out of his way and putting himself at risk to help me, and he told me that he felt sitting back and letting me mistreated when he could help would not have been a Christlike thing to do."

Photo | Randy Sanders

"Eventually, I went in to Gameday, and because people didn’t listen to them telling us to fill sections P, Q, and R and only filled in Q and R, I ended up on the third row of P. I was pretty front and center for the action and managed to hold up my Tennessee hoodie (that I wasn’t allowed to wear but still had) on camera quite a few times. An hour before the show started, Christine Williamson and Seth Greenberg came and stood in our row to film a short promo, and I held up the hoodie to show Greenberg mid interview. He paused and said there was a traitor among us, which got the whole crowd to boo me. I don’t know if that ever aired (it certainly wasn’t during the show) but it was still a lot of fun. I came back to the game and was scared because of the morning’s events that I might get turned away in orange, so I wore a white Alabama hoodie with a Tennessee shirt underneath and took off the hoodie about 30 minutes before tip."


Photo | Randy Sanders

"I ended up pretty far back, but I’m glad I still got to enjoy a Tennessee victory. Also of note is that one of the executive board members reached out to me after the fact to personally apologize for how things went down. He did this on his own and not on Crimson Chaos’s behalf, but it was a very respectable gesture on his part. I know that guy to be a strong Christian and it was cool to see the love of Christ come from him in this way. “While I do think that I was treated unfairly, it was very cool to see people who hated the team I was supporting and the clothes I was wearing go out of their way to try and help make things right for me. It really goes well with the reasoning behind my still loudly being a Tennessee fan at the University of Alabama: it’s fun. The rivalry, the trash talk, the competition, they all have the potential to get out of hand, but at the end of the day we support our teams and wear our colors because it’s fun. The people who helped me out clearly understood that there’s no point in sports or fan bases if we take it so seriously that we lose the fun that they are meant to bring. Go Vols!”


Its safe to say that Sanders is one of the most die hard Tennessee fans around, and he is also a wonderful example of character. Kudos to those in Crimson that attempted to help him out as well.



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