KNOXVILLE, Tenn. The second Saturday in September has been circled on John Currie's calendar for months the date marked two milestones; Tennessee's first home game of the season, and his first Vols home game as Director of Athletics of his alma mater.
The day began with a 7:30 a.m. breakfast meeting before arriving on campus at 11:00 a.m., five hours before the scheduled kick off with Indiana State.
Currie stops to check his step count for the day, "2,200 steps, I didn't get a workout in this morning." The amount of steps between his parking space and office isn't many, but he encounters no less than a dozen Tennessee fans who have arrived early to secure a tailgate spot for the home opener. "Welcome to Rocky Top!" he calls, "Enjoy the game."
A quick stop in his office to go over the game day schedule and Currie is off to meet and greet as many fans as possible in the hours before kick off. Currie listens to their praise, their concerns as well as their score predictions as he makes his way from one tailgate to another. The step count passes 6,000 a little after 1:00 p.m.
Currie enters the stadium two hours before kick off. As he passes from the newly renovated North portion of Neyland Stadium into the original South portion he stops to talk to vendors and promises renovations are soon to come, "We'll have you a new stand to work out of here in about four years."
As game time grows closer it's time to visit with more fans, more steps lead him to section ZZ where he stops and reflects on the journey from student and fan to Director of Athletics, "In 1997 when I came to my first ever Tennessee football game I believe it was here in section ZZ that I saw the T open for the first time in my life, it was a pretty special moment."
It's almost time for kick off and Currie heads down to the field to take in his first game at Neyland Stadium as Director of Athletics. Somewhere between section ZZ and the sidelines he surpasses 12,000 steps for the day, that's more than four miles. As Currie makes his way to the North endzone, he stops and talks with ushers and police officers thanking each of them for their time and service.
The Pride of the Southland Band roars onto the field and forms the T. Kick off is close. Currie stands silent, soaking in a moment that's been nearly twenty five years in the making. The T splits, the team takes the field and John Currie cheers; this time from the field instead of section ZZ.